This Monday, at a fancy hotel in New Delhi, a couple stood in a corner waiting for the gathered assembly to soak in their hard work.
This couple, they have never been too vocal with the media; rarely ever held court with reporters feeding them precious morsels of gossip. So far, they’ve been quiet and understated. But this morning was different. Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana Taku, the founders of MobiKwik, were hosting a press conference to announce a lite version of their mobile wallet. The stage, in many ways, was set. So was the context. The event came with a splash of patriotism, much in line with the flavour of the month. “Desh ke liye, desh ka wallet” read the slogan, in the backdrop of the Indian tricolour. Attired in Indian ethnic wear, the MobiKwik co-founders took to the stage, one after another.
Switching between Hindi and English, a conscious decision by the co-founders, Taku announced that MobiKwik has a user base of 40 million and 250,000+ merchants on their platform, both online and offline. Her brief talk had a clear emphasis — MobiKwik is a ‘Made in India’ product, an apparent jibe at Paytm, which counts Chinese company, Alibaba as its largest backer. “We are owned and managed by Indians,” Taku said. This is not the first time MobiKwik has taken a shot at their rival.
Usually, an event like this doesn’t warrant an hour-long press conference. But this one did. And curiously, this is the first press conference MobiKwik has ever hosted. First press conference; in seven, long years.
Clearly, these are unusual times. After 8 November, wallet companies, week-after-week, have held press conferences in plush Delhi five-star hotels, to announce product tweaks, primarily to capitalise on the government’s push towards a cashless economy. Ads have populated social media timelines and front pages of newspapers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged citizens to use wallets every Sunday morning. This is a new dawn.
Wallet companies are not popular. Come on, think about it. It is not very sexy to talk wallets. You won’t go up to an attractive stranger at a bar and ask them which mobile wallet they use and if they got a cash back on their last transaction. It is drab. And it has been for a while. But now the conversation is changing. And it is the time to capture mind share. Demonetisation has presented many companies with an opportunity to reinvent themselves.
And MobiKwik wants to make the most of it.