We, here in India, are in a transition phase between physical and digital payments. Although e-commerce might have gotten the rising middle class to start paying for stuff online, many of our transactions still depend on physical cash. We are very far away from a complete digital payment solution which works throughout the country. There are however, certain situations where we could digitally pay people using our mobile phones and be done with the whole thing in a simple way. One use case that comes to mind is paying money within our trusted circles of friends, family and colleagues. One startup which is innovating in this space is Happay. They have been developing a mobile based wallet product which can be used to simplify payment between friends.
The startup bills itself as the ‘Paypal for mobile numbers’ and has incorporated some useful features in its mobile app which aims to solve the above mentioned money situation in a demographic that is young and uses Android phones. The idea is simple. Load cash onto the service via netbanking or a debit card. Use this cash to pay your friends in a peer-2-peer fashion.
Some new features that Happay has added since they initially launched their Android app 4 weeks ago include the ability to
- ask a friend to pay you back (Awkward stuff but has to be done, right?)
- send money to any bank account
- split the bill among friends after an outing
- recharge mobiles and DTH from the app
- buy stuff on the Happay store which has products listed by its partners (21fools, Ferns&Petals, VillKart and iExperience)
The mobile wallet feature has been licensed from Zipcash which is RBI certified company. This is crucial for any startup in the payment space, because the regulations are surely crazy and if any ground has to be broken fast, then it makes sense to partner with a company which has already navigated the regulatory roads before. The company has stated that they are seeing good traction since they launched (100% week on week growth with respect to app downloads only). I liked the concept and its application to everyday annoyances and will definitely use it and get my friends to use it too. That being said, the use case is currently very small and the startup needs to think hard about how they can go ahead in the days to come and capture the promising mobile commerce and payment space. One way would be figuring out the B2B side of the mobile payments business, something that the company is working on currently.
Happay is a product of VA Tech Ventures Pvt. Ltd. which has been founded by Varun Rathi and Anshul Rai. The venture has been incubated at TLabs which recently had a demo day featuring Happay, Oogwave, Tignition etc.
I got in touch with Varun Rathi to ask them a few questions about the product.
1. How did you get the idea of a p2p payment network for mobile?
A. The idea was germinated from the basic insight of how as students and young professionals, we always shared the expenses for lunch, dinner, movies, rent, cab fare, bills, tickets, snacks at canteen, week long trips, (almost everything) with friends and colleagues.All this used to be fun, but at the end included a lot of transactions amongst ourselves and these were the common problems – ‘I don’t’ have cash right now’, ‘I’ll pay later’, ‘do you have a change for Rs 500’, ‘I forgot how much I paid’. Apart from this, being out of cash when the pizza delivery guy is at the doorstep, or wasting 5-10 minutes every day looking for change to pay the ‘auto-walla’ is something we all face quite often. We realized that we do almost 40% of our day to day transactions with individuals and to pay them we can’t swipe our debit or credit cards (though we wish we could). This brought out the need for a Peer to Peer payment solution, which doesn’t require any extra hardware like a card swiping machine to make cashless and easy payments. The mobile number was the clear answer. Everyone has a mobile number and most of them are already in our contact list. So with HapPay, you can just select a person from the contact list, enter the amount and send the payment right away. The receiver gets the payment even if he is not registered with HapPay. No need to enter bank account or lengthy card details and no more queuing up at the ATM to get cash.
2. How do you think you can expand beyond the current use case in the days to come?
A. The real potential of HapPay lies in facilitating offline micro-payments. We plan to partner with major e-commerce companies, food delivery chains, radio cab companies to accept HapPay on delivery. Also, with increasing use of online classifieds (OLX and Quickr), we see a huge potential in peer to peer payments for buying and selling online.Apart from this we are also targeting college and corporate canteens to accept payments. This will help us in taking a step forward to our idea of a ‘cashless campus’ – once you are in a college campus you don’t need cash, just HapPay.
3. Could you give us some information on the traction you have received, as in amount of money being processed daily?
A. We have launched 6 weeks ago, and have registered a week on week growth of over 75% in number of users. Currently we have over 6000 registered users and more than 300 new users register on our android app every day. This growth will increase significantly when we launch HapPay on 6 more platforms in the next few months.Till now we have processed transactions worth 1.5lacs.
4. Any interesting insights that you have come across in the four weeks that the app has been live?
A. We have been receiving some quirky and helpful insights because of a very cool feature, where one can add remarks while paying a friend. People have been quite creative about these remarks. We have realized something really interesting that Indian smartphone users are in general, quite interested in utility apps, and once they find it useful they promote it among their circle of their own. This works great for us, as HapPay gets better with all your friends on the platform.
5. Can you give us some more information about upcoming B2B features?
A. Earlier, we have never thought of a B2B product. After launch we received interest from small and medium sized businesses, who are looking for very customized solutions and which are not easily available in the market.For example, iexperience is a company which is a marketplace for experiences. People can buy experiences from different vendors and make the payment online. They face a lot problem in splitting their share and transferring the vendor’s share via NEFT, manually. With our B2B product, this can be completely automated and done in a click. There are other interesting use cases too.
6. What features can we expect to see in the near future?
A. We are working on a really awesome feature. That will enable any HapPay user to send money to any bank account in India, instantly (24 X 7, even on Sundays) and with just a few clicks on the phone. We started building this based on a lot of requests and suggestions from people.
7. Can you give us some insight into how you are planning to market the product?
A. Currently we are totally focused on digital marketing – through social media and blogs, internal forums of different colleges. We are soon going to implement a few guerilla marketing techniques in college and corporate canteens to increase visibility and awareness. Apart from this we have an inbuilt viral feature in the app, which incentivizes users to invite more friends. This has been working great for us.We are also hiring Campus Ambassadors to increase awareness among students
8. So can you give us an idea about the regulatory process for a payment startup? Do you think reforms are needed so that more people can start thinking of making payments easier?
A. The regulations are quite tough to crack for a payments startup in India, and it took us almost 5-6 months to figure them out. We create a prepaid wallet for each user. One needs a license from RBI to operate a prepaid wallet and hence we have strategically partnered with ZipCash (An RBI authorized company) to comply with the regulations. We are also partnering with EKO. These two partnerships will enable us to make bank to bank, bank to wallet, wallet to wallet and wallet to bank transactions, just with a few clicks on your phone.
Talking about the regulatory guidelines, the RBI has framed them quite well and that helps to have a lot less credit card frauds in India, as compared to other countries. But, there are a few reforms needed to lower the entry barrier for startup. It’s hard for a new company to have the minimum required capital and some other documents, which are prerequisite to apply for a license.
Website | Happay