'Whatsapp for money' app, Chillr raises $6M in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital
Hi Backwater Technologies that operates Chillr, a multi-bank mobile payment app recently announced that it has raised $6 million (INR 40 Crores) in Series A round of funding from Sequoia Capital to support the payment app's growth plans. The company claims that the series A round is not closed yet and there will be other investors joining in the next few weeks.
Backwater Technologies was set up in December 2014 with a seed funding of $1 million from the parent company, MobMe Wireless Solutions. Sony Joy co-founded MobME Wireless Solutions with two of his college friends back in 2006 and it has the distinction of being Kerala's first student incubated company based out of Technopark, Trivandrum. Currently MobME is headquartered in Kochi and has incubated multiple products in the Fin-Tech space.
Chillr was incubated in MobME for a year before it was spun off as a separate entity. Through the app, users can send money instantly to anyone in their phone book without having to know the recipients account details. Currently the app has two partner banks, Bank of Baroda and HDFC Bank. Customers from these two banks can send and receive money, while customers of all other major banks can only receive money, at this stage.
Besides person-to-person money transfer, the app also supports mobile recharges, utility bill payments and payments at online and offline stores. Unlike wallets, Chillr lets users keep the money in their savings bank account till the point of actual expense.
Since its beta launch in February 2015, Chillr claims that two lakh users have successfully linked their bank accounts through the app, with about four lakh transactions. All transactions are authenticated by a 4-digit PIN issued by the bank and Chillr claims to have hit INR 18 Crore mark in transaction value.
MOBME’s also runs 'Startup Village', a not-for-profit PPP tech incubator with Government of India, which is home to thousands of technology startups. Sony, Founder and CEO, Chillr mentors over a dozen startups in the mobile, internet, payments, design, media and retail space, based on his understanding of the telecom ecosystem, digital banking, product development lifecycle, user behavior and scalability. Talking about Chillr, he added,
“Unlike wallets, which reduce the number of times users have to enter bank/card details, Chillr simplifies payments end to end and eliminates the need of entering these details. We have witnessed that average peer-to-peer transaction value is close to INR 1000 and most users recharge their mobiles three or more times in a month. This proves that users prefer to use digital money and the capital infusion will help us enhance our offerings and achieve the vision of enabling a digital economy.”
With smartphone adoption on the rise, it is estimated that India will have 314 million mobile internet users by 2017. According to the 'State of the Internet' report by Mary Meeker, India, not China, is adding the most Internet users with India constituting the second largest market for Facebook and LinkedIn. Also with the penetration of e-commerce, Indians are now more comfortable transacting online.
Digital wallets have gained a lot of traction in India, partly accelerated in the initial stages by partenrships with cab aggregators. Alibaba backed Paytm, founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma is among the biggest players in this space. They recently claimed to have a GMV run rate of Rs 10,000 crore, having crossed 100 million wallet users in July 2015. Snapdeal, which acquired Freecharge earlier this year, recently announced the launch of their semi-closed wallet. Other noteworthy players in this segment include Ibibo backed PayU Money, Mobikwik (Also backed by Sequoia Capital) and PayZapp, an initiative by HDFC Bank.
Chillr envisions a cashless economy riding on the smartphone wave and is working closely with leading banks to accelerate the process. The company will use part of the capital to acquire customers and merchants and the rest of the capital will be invested in technology and to strengthen the team. By end of March 2016, Chillr aims to tie up with 30,000 merchants and on-board 15 leading banks. Currently, the team size is 70 and the company plans to scale up to 150 by the end of current fiscal year.