Paying at a paan shop is good for marketing, but that’s not real biz: MobiKwik CEO
In a potshot reminiscent of Flipkart’s broadside against Amazon, Mobikwik founder and CEO Bipin Preet Singh said Paytm’s claims of roping in every paanwala in the neighbourhood is good for marketing, but not for real business. “Paying at a paan shop is good for marketing yourself, but that’s not real business.”
Singh and his wife, Upasana Taku (the company’s co-founder) are fighting two battles at one time. The first one is against cash, as demonetisation has taken 86% of the currency out of the market, and it will take around six more months for things to normalise. Singh said he was late to react to the currency ban. “We were trying to digest what was happening… we are still discovering.”
The other battle is against Paytm, India’s largest mobile wallet company, and its biggest rival.
“They captured higher mindshare… Demonetisation has definitely benefited them,” Singh said. Paytm is spending crores on advertising, adding merchants and rolling out a new features almost every third day.
Singh also doesn’t believe Paytm’s claims that it has 150 million wallet users. “They are half of that,” he said. MobiKwik added five million new wallet users since the government announced its demonetisation drive on November 8, Singh said. Paytm claims eight million.
Paytm already has four times more offline merchants – a million of them – compared to MobiKwik. But Singh is ready for the big fight.
“We will not let anyone else win. We have been around for seven years. We have raised $70 million this year. We have great investors, we will raise more money, and we are stepping up the game.We were taking things gradually, but not anymore,” he said. ”We are running the business in loss, but hopefully we will be profitable in May 2018.”
Meanwhile, MobiKwik will go after new internet users, people who have cheaper smartphones and work with low bandwidth, mainly the non-English speaking audience. On Monday, the company launched a lighter version of its app, which works well on 2G. Already available in Hindi, it will be launched in six local languages in the next few weeks. It has tied up will toll plazas across the country, petrol pumps, and is in talks with various state governments to take tax payments, utility bills, and other state charges.