In an endeavour to stay true to its promise of simplifying how people connect and interact with content and services on mobile, Hike Messenger announced the launch of Hike 5.0 on Tuesday in New Delhi, with the biggest update being Hike Wallet, the mobile payment feature.
Hike Wallet, launched in partnership with Yes Bank, helps India’s only home-grown messaging platform beat Facebook-owned WhatsApp to become the first messenger app in India to launch the digital payments feature.
Brian Acton, Co-founder, WhatsApp, was in talks with the Indian government for launching digital payments for the app’s largest market, India. WhatsApp currently dominates the Indian market with over 200 million active users.
The UPI, which stands for Unified Payments Interface, was launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in August last year to accelerate the adoption of digital payments in the country.
During the launch, Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO of Hike Messenger, revealed the brand’s constant efforts to take the consumer experience to a whole new level.
He said, “Over the last six months, we’ve been working to bring a brand new experience to our users with one question in mind – 'How do we take all the things that users love about Hike and make it even better?' Hike 5.0 is our most ambitious step in that direction till date."
Hike Wallet allows consumers free and instant money transfers to bank accounts via UPI, and for those who don’t actively use a bank account, they can still send and receive money through the wallet.
Another important aspect of the digital payments feature is the Blue Packet, an envelope where users can insert money and send it to their friends.
Kavin added, “With Blue Packets, we’re going to change the way people send and receive money. We believe we can make that experience fun and also a new form of messaging. We hope with Blue Packets we can give our users a new avenue to express themselves."
Additionally, Hike Wallet brings on board the online recharge option on its platform. Users can now recharge their phones and pay their postpaid bill using the latest version.
A copycat red flag?
Interestingly, Chinese social media and instant messaging service WeChat has a similar feature called Red Packets, which allows users to send money across either to individuals or groups with some yuan (Chinese RMB) assigned to them. This gamification is considered one of the prime components for disruption, and has allowed the Tencent-owned entity WeChat to fight AliPay's market monopoly, pushing it back to 50 percent.
Kavin launched Hike in December 2012 with the simple idea that in a mobile-first market like India, where the first screen for most would be a mobile device, one could bring India online through messaging. Since its inception, the platform has acquired a user base of over 100 million in 2017, exchanging over 40 billion messages per month.
In August 2016, Hike raised its fourth round of funding of $175 million, led by Tencent and Foxconn, at a valuation of $1.4 billion, making it the fastest company in the India to attain 'Unicorn' status, having reached the milestone in just over three-and-half years. Investors in Hike include Tencent, Foxconn, Tiger Global, SofBank and Bharti.