This Chennai-based father-daughter duo is betting big on NFC technology
Serving a card-less and cashless economy in India is no more a distant dream. The growing number of cashless transactions is not only attributed to 3G and 4G services but also to near field communication (NFC) technology, which enables wireless exchange of data between devices in short range. According to Mobile Payment Forum of India, India has about 200 million mobile subscribers, while adding five million a month. NFC technology’s communication protocols allow even people who are not smartphone-savvy to enjoy the benefits of cashless transactions.
When 29-year-old Lakshmideepa was working in an international telecom company in London, her father Ra. Arjunamurthy, a serial entrepreneur, shared his vision of building a tech company in Chennai. She relocated to India in 2012. After months of research, the father-daughter duo developed an NFC-enabled product and launched NFC technology company YELDI Softcom last July.
YELDI has developed its core NFC technology in collaboration with NXP Semiconductors. Its NFC ecosystem primarily comprises the NFC handset, card, backend infrastructure and mobile app. The handsets work as card readers and writers.
YELDI’s contact-less cards are designed to handle multi-tenant variety of payment and security access applications. Data exchange and transactions take place when these cards are tapped against the YELDI NFC handset.
YELDI’s backend infrastructure is based on data centres that can handle large transaction volumes in the future. The mobile app will allow customers to place orders or schedule appointments, check the latest offers, view past transactions and more.
YELDI Softcom has launched an NFC prepaid payment card, iTapIt, in Sri Lanka in a joint initiative with National Development Bank PLC. It is a dual card and can be used as a debit-cum-prepaid wallet card. The startup is also in talks with banks in Bangladesh, Philippines and the Middle East for iTapIt.
Additionally, YELDI has also launched closed-group payment solutions for retailers in the form of YELDI mPOS and payment cards for F&B segment, beauty parlours, libraries, and laundromats. Currently, Air India, Vasanta Bhavan, Vaango, Bounce Back and Guardini are some of the customers.
We ensure that our B2C customers save money by leveraging our products, while retailers can enjoy customer loyalty solutions and business intelligence analytics. We have filed patents for our NFC mobile tags and biometric top-ups,” says Laxshmideepa, who has done graduation in Electronics & Communication Engineering from Anna University and post-graduation in Advanced Photonics & Communications from University of Warwick, England.
She heads business development, product management, marketing and advertising and HR in YELDI Softcom.
Arjunamurthy has 30 years of experience in entrepreneurship, with some of his ventures being Genie Foods, Monument Mass Media, Zillion Marketing and Sriram Corporation.
Building the pillars
YELDI Softcom currently has a team of 90 people, including 80 in the tech team. The startup plans to increase the number of employees to 300 by 2016. Headquartered in Chennai, YELDI Softcom has sales offices in Delhi and Sri Lanka.
YELDI Softcom is yet to generate revenue as the monetisation parameters will be based on the various products that will be launched in April this year. It is looking to acquire 10 lakh customers by the end of this year and earn Rs 50 from each card transaction. The startup is in talks with Metro Rail Corporation, large-sized multi-specialty hospitals, multiplexes, and shopping malls. It also plans to offer access control and payment solutions to real estate companies.
We are looking to market about 10 million NFC cards by the end of this year and launch YELDI BIZ, our cloud-based business management suites for restaurants, retailers, academic institutions and even corporates.”
NFC technology: Riding the wave
According to MarketsandMarkets report, the NFC market globally is expected to reach $21.84 billion by 2020. During the forecast period, APAC is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.5 percent, driven by the increasing adoption of smart appliances and rising per capita income in India and China.
Moreover, the growing shipment of consumer electronics also creates an opportunity for NFC chip manufacturers. NXP Semiconductors, Broadcom Corporation, STMicroelectronics, MediaTek and Texas Instruments are some of the major players in this space.
Nearly 50 percent of Indian smartphone users belong to the 18-30 years demographic leading to a higher growth curve for digital payments. This growing number of smartphone users serves a launchpad for startups to come up with innovative NFC-enabled technologies. Bengaluru-based iKaaz, Pune-based ZigTraka Solutions, Noida-based Magictap Solutions, Bengaluru-based Tonetag are some startups in the sector.