MobiKwik was flanked by Paytm on one side and FreeCharge on the other. With the largest wallet company deciding to become a payments bank and the third largest finding a less-than-desirable exit into Axis Bank, MobiKwik is the only real wallet company left in the payments ecosystem. It has an interesting set of investors that includes a lender—Bajaj Finserv—and a payment gateway company—Japan’s GMO—among others. Whether it will evolve from being a wallet into something bigger is what 2018 will decide.
One MobiKwik Systems Pvt Ltd
Name as per MCA records
Bipin Preet Singh
Co-founder and CEO
What has MobiKwik been up to, in the last year?
A distant second from Paytm, MobiKwik claims to have 65 million users, who make about 3 million transactions daily, compared to Paytm, which has 200 million users (pre-KYC) and claims to process close to 10 million transactions a day. A total of 15 lakh merchants accept MobiKwik, the company claims. Even though in 2017, it raised fresh funds, the Reserve Bank of India with its guidelines for pre-paid instruments, undid whatever little wallets had going for it. Mandating Know Your Customer (KYC) norms for customers to transact using wallets means more investments for these companies. MobiKwik has said it will invest (read: spend) Rs 400 crore for KYC over the next five years.
Rs 27.3 crore: This is the standalone revenue the wallet company made from the sale of its services. It grew only 15% from Rs 23.8 crore in 2016, despite tailwinds like demonetisation. The company claimed that it was going to process $10 billion in transaction volumes in 2017 but those claims have left little impact on its topline.
Rs 168.4 crore: The company’s total expenses. It rose 14%. Most of those expenses came from other expenses that include marketing.
Rs 14.5 crore: The advertising and marketing expenses of the company. It scaled back on spending in FY 2017 by 33%—a significant call for a company to make. The company moved to a loyalty model to incentivise users over cashbacks in the middle of last year.
Rs 21.7 crore: What it spent on salaries for its employees—a 13% increase from a year ago.
Rs 131.3 crore: The losses of MobiKwik. The company’s losses grew 20.1% in this financial year. It may have cut down on its marketing spend by a third and managed just a marginal increase in employee expenses but the losses have been mounting. MobiKwik needs a path to follow. And soon.
Where is the company headed?
The wallet player had the world at its feet. Demonetisation was supposed to turn things around for MobiKwik. There was even talk of it being the next unicorn. But far from it. The latest round of funding from Bajaj Finserv, a non-banking financial company values it between $300 to $350 million. But it isn’t time to hit the panic stations yet. MobiKwik is at an intersection. It can keep pretending to be a wallet player when the likes of PayU are shutting down their wallets, or it can pick one of two things: turn into a lending company or help people invest. MobiKwik wants to do all the three. In the next year, expect the wallet company to start making one of these three its primary focus. The others will be distractions, at best. But if CEO Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana Taku, his wife and co-founder, want to run all three races at the same time, they’ll need more cash, and that will be an interesting sell.
*Paytm’s founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, is one of the investors in The Ken
Edit: The story has been updated at 6:00 PM to remove the reference to Mobikwik’s valuation
1. The valuation of Mobikwik in Series C was $100-$200 million and in Series D, $300-$350 million
2. The stake held by one of its investors Bajaj Finance changed thanks to a service transaction converted into equity, it is not technically a fall in valuation