Why a communication app like Truecaller acquired a fintech startup like Chillr

13th Jun 2018
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Stockholm-based Truecaller on Wednesday announced that it has acquired Mumbai-based startup Chillr. While the details of the deal were undisclosed, it is known that the 45-member Chillr team will now be a part of the TrueCaller India team. 

Truecaller, on Wednesday, announced that it has gone the acquisition route for the first time by acquiring Kerala-based fintech startup Chillr. The Chillr app will now be a part of the TrueCaller Pay feature. 

Speaking to YourStory, Nami Zarringhalam, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Truecaller explained that the acquisition was a part of their commitment to grow in India and to double down focus on India and in the payment space. "With all the current initiatives by the government, with an aggressive push towards a cashless economy, we felt it was an opportunity for us to look deeper into the payments space,” he explained.

Chillr was founded in 2014, by Sony Joy, Mohamed Galib, Anoop Sankar and Lishoy Bhaskaran, who will now be working towards building a stronger Truecaller Pay ecosystem. 

Truecaller founders with Chillr founders, at a press announcement in Bengaluru

From being a ‘phone number search app’ in 2009 to a ‘mobile identity’ platform in 2018, Truecaller has evolved quite a bit. Last March, the company had announced the launch of Truecaller 8, with which it became a complete communication app. At the same time the company had also announced the launch of its own wallet Truecaller Pay, in partnership with ICICI bank. 

“We were one of the first MNCs to on-board digital transactions and UPI,” Nami said. From launching an all-inclusive communication app, and making TrueSDK platform-agnostic, to partnering with ICICI Bank to launch Truecaller Pay, Truecaller has gone beyond what it initially set out to do. 

Truecaller's all-inclusive communication app not only integrates True Messenger and a redesigned Truecaller dial page but will also include Flash Messaging, which allows single-tap, real-time and instant conversations with family and friends. It also helps the user know where people are.

Nami believes that by integrating payments into a communications app like Truecaller, you are ensuring ease in user behaviour. Whether one gets a payment reminder message or an alert, with Truecaller messaging, a consumer can simply click on the link and pay again through Truecaller Pay. 

The acquisition of Chillr is a step towards Truecaller Pay going deeper into the financial services ecosystem of India. Nami added that since the launch of Truecaller Pay last year, the team has seen an increased number of use cases to make payments easier for the Indian consumer. 

“Chillr made it easier for people to link all their bank accounts on one platform. That was the first step, now with UPI touching close to 200 million transactions a month. The government is now pushing towards touching a billion transactions a month. Fintech in India today is at a tipping point. We believe that by integrating with Truecaller we can grow deeper in the financial services ecosystem,” Sony told YourStory

Now, with this integration, the team is looking to make micro-lending, micro insurances and other financial services frictionless and simpler. The Truecaller Pay infrastructure, with the payments data, is present on an Indian server, thus conforming to RBI guidelines. 

Along with Truecaller Pay, Chillr is now working to become the top three payment ecosystems in the country. While Truecaller announced its Truecaller Pay facility last year, this year, a bigger shift has happened with WhatsApp announcing WhatsApp Pay. There also is Tez, Google’s very own UPI-powered payment feature. 

Google Tez had claimed that it has close to 12 million active users and had processed over 140 million transactions. Further, the company claimed that over 5.25 lakh merchants across the country are already using Tez. 

Last month, WhatsApp had also launched its standalone business app, WhatsApp Business, globally. At present, the app has features like business profiles, quick replies to frequently asked questions, and messaging statistics, apart from other things.

By launching payments, both Google and WhatsApp display a similar motive to Truecaller, in bringing in a larger consumer base that chooses to use their apps for everything. 

“Bill payments, credit card payments all can work through a message. The advantage of Truecaller Pay is that you can pay anyone, whether you have saved that person’s number or not. Like an electrician, plumber, mechanic; practically anyone can be paid,” Nami said. 

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