Early last year, husband-wife duo Anant Kochhar and Tashina Singh was looking to start a cyber-security product firm. The duo had started to solve an internet security problem to reduce the attack surface area of a webpage to zero. What they ended up creating instead was a frictionless online micropayment solution. They called it Yippster. The Gurgaon-based startup enables micropayments for digital goods through the consumers’ mobile phone operator.
Yippster becomes a payment gateway and makes the telephone connection (prepaid or postpaid) the account. Users need to send an SMS to a short code toll-free number. In case you have a prepaid account, the amount will be deducted from the talk time balance and if it’s postpaid, the same will be added to the next month’s bill.
Their journey literally started on a long drive from Gurgaon to Goa on their beloved Tata Nano. The fact that they were making this journey on an innovative car like Nano, became their motivation to develop a product which is equally simple and easy to use. “That is how Yippster works. Users have to do just one universally known thing - send an SMS - and their online transactions are done. No credit card. No friction. No problem,” says Anant Kocchar, founder and chief evangelist, Yippster.
Prior to Yippster, Anant worked as a cyber-security consultant, consulting mostly with NIC ( government’s IT arm), while Tashina had earlier worked with IT major Accenture.
Once the product was ready, they went to the Silicon Valley to showcase it, because they felt it could be a solution to the ‘paywall’ crisis which is killing the US newspaper and print industry. “But that initial experience was discouraging. Investors were unapproachable and unwilling to see the product,” adds Anant. Some were of the opinion that such a solution would never take off and others thought an Indian company can’t solve big problems for the US market.
Later, Yippster applied to NASSCOM 10000 Startups and became visible in the Indian startup community. Yippster was selected for the fourth batch of Tlabs and started its operations. “Tashina kept the Yippster ship steady. She worked out an ambitious business plan and leveraged the Tlabs brand to sign up multiple online content sellers,” says Anant.
So far the startup has enabled more than a thousand transactions with five clients on board. It charges content distributor on a per transaction basis, but the duo is still evaluating other options. “We have partnered with telcos like Airtel and Vodafone. While it’s free for Airtel and Vodafone, we’re charging the merchant. Going forward we may target at revenue sharing with telcos too,” points out Tashina.
Yippster claims to have 20 percent repeat users with around 50 percent dropout rate as far as transactions are concerned. Since micropayments are limited only for digital goods (given the regulatory guidelines), their plan is to approach all digital content providers along with all telecom operators. The startup competes with other micropayment solutions like Beam Money and MobiKwik, including global players like CarrotPay and Flattr.