TechSparks 2019: An open payments ecosystem is the key to achieving our vision, says PhonePe’s Sameer Nigam

Delivering a keynote address at TechSparks 2019, YourStory’s flagship event, Sameer Nigam, Co-founder and CEO of PhonePe, said the startup is building an open payments ecosystem using technology.

At a time when India’s digital payments space is turning into a hunting ground with the world’s top retail and tech giants such as Amazon and Google jostling to grab a larger slice of the multi-billion-dollar market, PhonePe, the digital wallet startup owned by Flipkart, did not ride on its parent company’s success, but has carved a niche for itself.

The Bengaluru-based fintech major commands a valuation of nearly $8 billion in just three years, and some estimate that it can go up to $14 billion in the medium term. 

At the 10th edition of YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks, Sameer Nigam, Co-founder and CEO of PhonePe, spoke building open payments ecosystem using technology and human innovation that will allow consumers, merchants, and financial service providers to engage and transact with each other.

Addressing a packed hall of entrepreneurs and investors, Sameer said, PhonePe’s vision is to build an open ecosystem, to push the boundaries of what technology can do for the market, as well as the boundaries of innovation that our consumers deserve. 

Elaborating about open payments ecosystem, Sameer said,

“An open ecosystem is building cross-platform tech, creating as many hooks and connects between various ecosystem players. We want to enable our ecosystem partners to do business and commerce with each other at scale.”

“There are different kinds of ecosystem you can enable through technology including payments, content, supply chain, etc. And for this, PhonePe is working with three key stakeholders - consumers, banks, and merchants,” he added.

He said, “When we entered the market as the first non-banking UPI player, many questions were raised as to whether the UPI will work. But our vision was not to build India’s largest payments company, but we wanted to build India’s largest transaction platform that is anchored on payments.” 

From UPI payments and recharge to money transfer and online bill payments, today we have enabled consumers to do it all on PhonePe, he added. 

The digital payments startup rebranded its in-app platform to ‘PhonePe Switch’, which is a one-click entry point to a world of apps on its platform. Switch allows customers to seamlessly switch between PhonePe and their favourite food, grocery, shopping and travel apps from within the PhonePe app itself, with just a single tap.

PhonePe also provides consumers with different choices as it is integrated with all payment instruments which includes debit and credit card, net banking, and UPI among others. The app has over 50 million saved cards including Visa, Mastercard, Amex, RuPay and diners, Sameer said.

“We are among the top three most used RuPay partners in the country in cards,” he said.

Speaking about banks, Sameer said, “We are very clear that there is only one area that we will potentially compete with, and that is to set market. Payments is our anchor, and the other is lending. We will never become a bank, and we will only get into lending if the banks don't cater to the Bharat.” 

Sameer added PhonePe has 150 million registered users, 65 million monthly active users, and currently serves 7.2 million merchants across 130 cities. Its interoperable QR code also makes it easy and affordable for MSMEs across India to accept digital payments at zero MDR rates.

“Being the UPI player, PhonePe is also the second largest wallet in the country with over 75 million people. The app has over 120 million UPI linked accounts, and more than 60 percent of them are Tier II and III customers. Nearly 50 percent of the transactions on PhonePe are happening in Tier III,” Sameer said.

He also highlighted that one should not be worried about the product, “if you build for audiences the right way, they will come to you.”

Addressing budding entrepreneurs, Sameer said, “Build your product for the consumer in the most generic way, and try and see whether your services can actually reach those customers. First figure out the product-market match, and see whether it will match a larger market. If it doesn't match, then pivot. If you are happy with a smaller market, be satisfied. Just be clear about what you want to build.” 

He concluded the keynote by talking about the significance of technology. “Technology is meant to grow the size of the pie and bring in efficiency. Use it with that length, and don’t use it to kill profit pools, employment, and innovation, and instead expand each of these.” 

(Edited by Megha Reddy)

YourStory's annual extravaganza TechSparks brings together the best and the brightest from the startup ecosystem, corporate world, policymakers and, of course, the investor community. Over the past decade, TechSparks has grown to become India's most loved tech and startup platform for knowledge sharing and networking. A big thank you for all your support over the years and a big shoutout to our sponsors.


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