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Companies focused on evolving their business models after DeMon: Shailendra Naidu, Obopay

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Companies focused on evolving their business models after DeMon: Shailendra Naidu, Obopay

Soon after the first anniversary of demonetisation, Shailendra Naidu, CEO, Obopay, tells that the sudden announcement by PM Narendra Modi last year compelled brands to change their marketing strategy, be it creating brand awareness or even evolving business models. He also throws light on the enormous room the online wallet sector provides for more players to get in and evolve. Excerpts:

What is Obopay?

Obopay is a pioneer in mobile payments, it started with its own mobile payment service in the US in 2005 and with Nokia Money in India in 2008. It is a provider of payment products, solutions, services and business consulting to companies across sectors such as telecom, finance, banks, and retail to name a few. The key current clientele of the company is spread across 11 plus countries and three continents - Asia, Africa, and North America – and includes brands like Airtel, Allianz, Telecel, Azam Group etc.
Obopay is present in four of the top five mobile money markets in the world – “Unparalleled Experience”. The platform handles over 11% of global mobile money transactions every day – “Highly Scalable”. The company has processed over 1 billion transactions a year in one of our large deployments – “Dependable Solution”.

When the company started, this might have been a new generation technology but right now this market is quite crowded. How do you differentiate yourself from others?

The market is crowded but it is huge! In the Indian market, there are about 15 million retail outlets. The largest FMCG market handles about 30% of the market. The rest of them, no one is going behind them. And can one entity service this whole market? I don’t think so. Secondly, the number of users in this service is again huge. This is a different life cycle just like the brand’s life cycle. I might be very comfortable using this technology  but some other person might not be this comfortable using digital technology. At the most, the payment could be digitally received, and then the money could be withdrawn and used. The needs and use of each and every cycle is different. If you look at this globally, each segment is a huge bucket. And we’re still getting started. We’re not a matured industry as such. It’s just the start for us. Broadly, if you look at innovation globally, the gestation period for anything to take off is 20-30 years. 2005-06 was the start of the whole mobile payments industry. So we’re still in the first decade. We still have two decades left in that sense. Right now not many users and enterprises have adopted it. The explosion will happen when enterprises will adopt it.

Did demonetisation help in catalysing this process of brand awareness for the mobile payments brands present here?

Yes, it did. Mobile payments, globally, very few pockets are trying. What demonetisation did is that it created a lot of awareness. And now a lot of people are open to using an online payment platform. If you take the awareness process into consideration, there are these early adopters and you also have the late ones. Brands have to try really hard to bridge this gap. In B-school, they taught this to us as a single curve whereas it’s actually not. On the contrary, there’s a break in between and you’ll have to cross this. To cross this, players like us will have to make this whole adoption easy for the masses to take to it and see some meaning in it. That is what is happening right now in terms of the life cycle of this industry, we’re trying hard to cross this gap. You can’t bet your business plans based on the early adopters. You’ll have to consider the majority which is not the early adopters. Business models are evolving right now.

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