The making of the PhonePe Pulse report

Guest Column: Priya Patankar, Head of Corporate Communications, PhonePe, shares the idea behind the study

e4m by Priya Patankar
Updated: Oct 25, 2021 6:58 PM
Priya Patankar

PhonePe recently launched the Pulse report, an in-depth study on digital payments in India. The report traces the evolution of digital payments from use cases to geographic trends. It also examines the path ahead for digital payments and looks at how the ecosystem players can build user trust and safety.

During the launch of the report and website, some of the questions we were asked were why did you decide to share your data? How did the idea come into inception and what was the effort that went into this endeavor?

Here’s a look at the how, why and the way forward:

Giving back to the ecosystem: The idea for Pulse was sown right at the beginning of the PhonePe journey. Five years back when PhonePe was started there were no authoritative data sources which gave a true picture of digital payments in India. As the company recently turned five, as our way of giving back to the ecosystem we decided to make public data from over 2000 crore PhonePe transactions by creating India’s first interactive, geo-spatial website and the Pulse report. For the corporate communications team, which was one of the key drivers of this project, the idea was to make available data and facts to everyone who granularly tracks this segment - the media, the analyst community, students and research bodies. 

Using numbers to tell the ‘Real story’: I started managing Corpcomm at PhonePe almost 4.5 years back. Over the years, I have struggled on multiple occasions to make sense of some of the numbers which were being shared in the public domain. In 2020, when we started work on the Pulse website and report, I remember having countless conversations with our business and analytics teams on the availability of data from over 2000 crore transactions on the PhonePe platform. It also struck me that what better way to derive ‘Real insights’ for digital payments in India than from our own data! Given the wealth of information available, the possibilities of what this has allowed us to do as storytellers and communicators is exciting. The hard part? Distilling this treasure trove of data into a story which was easy to understand, comprehend and read. 

Gathering consumer and merchant insights: How do you start writing about a payment app which has over 300 million registered users? We are talking about 1 in 5 Indians here. When we started sketching the framework of what the Pulse report would look like, we wanted this to be representative of our user base. We decided early on that a deep dive into popular categories and use cases was one way to showcase the ubiquity of digital payments. For instance, contrary to what we think, digital payments are no longer limited to just money transfers. During the course of writing the report we came to know that electricity bill payments now have 100% coverage on PhonePe with coverage across all 73 (both public and private) electricity boards. Similarly, one big winner in all T20 matches are the DTH recharges which are strongly influenced by events. This is also reflected in gaming and entertainment categories emerging as high volume drivers for online transactions.  We also got similar interesting and unusual insights when we started tracking payments across geographies. While we have all conventionally believed metros are probably driving a huge chunk of digital payments in the country, over 80% of PhonePe’s users are from Tier 2, 3 and beyond. PhonePe customers across India grew by 50% between Mar’20 to Mar’21. Nagaland saw the highest customer growth rate of 106%. The geographical data also showed that there was immense headroom for growth of digital payments in various parts of the country. 

The way forward: As promised during our launch, we have made the PhonePe Pulse data APIs available to all the ecosystem players. The Pulse report is also available as a free download for anyone interested in digital payments to track, reference and also list and use as a source for stories, research papers and authoritative articles.The PhonePe Pulse website data will be updated every quarter. Stay tuned for our next big update soon! 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com 

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