Homegrown messaging app Hike has added payments feature allowing its 100 million users to transfer money as well as pay mobile phone bills, in an effort to cash in on the growing digital transactions in India.
Hike is the first messaging platform in the country to have an integrated wallet. Interestingly, Hikes investor – Tencent – has similar offerings in China through WeChat messaging app.
The new update (Hike 5.0) will allow free and instant bank-to-bank transfer via unified payments interface (UPI) as well as recharge right from the app, Hike Messenger founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal told reporters.
The move towards enabling digital payments comes ahead of rival WhatsApp that is also working on foraying into digital payment services later this year.
The Facebook-owned messaging app, which counts India has its largest market with about 200 million users, could use India as a testbed for launching its payment services.
Post demonetisation, there has been a massive growth in digital transaction volumes in India, including credit/debit cards, mobile banking/m-wallets and UPI.
The company will also allow its users to send digital “blue packets” or envelopes containing money to their friends.
Hikes wallet – powered by Yes Bank – would compete with the likes of Paytm and Mobikwik. However, users will currently be able to only conduct peer-to-peer money transfers and make mobile bill payments.
Asked if the company will onboard merchants to enable consumers to pay using their wallets, Mittal said “the focus is on making payments, social”.
He added that the features will work with the QR code rolled out to merchants (under the direction set by the Reserve Bank of India), thus enabling people to make payments seamlessly by just scanning the QR code and pay using Hike wallets.
Mittal, however, declined to comment on the volume of transactions expected on the platform.
On his plans to monetise the platform, Mittal said the four-year old startup is in “growth stage”.
“There are four stages – engagement, growth, revenue and profitability. We are at the growth stage. This launch lays the foundation for the revenue stage,” he said.
The Hike has partnered Indian private sector lender Yes Bank to facilitate money transfers to banks using the UPI system, Mittal said.
Hike, which is a part of Bharti Enterprises, had raised USD 175 million in funding last year, led by Tencent Holdings and Foxconn Technology Group.
Hike, which has raised USD 250 million, was valued at nearly USD 1.4 billion post the funding round.
Kavin, son of Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal, said Hike has been working on the new update for over six months.
“With Hike 5.0, we have reduced the app size to just 25MB despite adding all these features and have also added 128-bit SSL encryption to ensure that communication across the air and wire networks, is completely encrypted,” he said.
The new update has also brought in improved user interface as well as new features to the camera on the app.