Eleven-year-old payments company MobiKwik has been vocal about wanting to get on the initial public offering (IPO) wagon for some time now. It even elevated its head of merchant payments, Chandan Joshi, to cofounder recently in an effort to kickstart kickstart MobiKwik Chandan is now the third Co-Founder of MobiKwik in addition to myself and Upasana. With this major appointment, we have effectively kick started our IPO 2022 campaign- MobiKwik Read more  its 2022 IPO push. 

MobiKwik’s IPO ambitions puts it in the company of foodtech major Zomato, payments rivals Paytm* and PhonePe, and ride-hailing company Ola, all of which have expressed similar intentions. But these are companies valued in the billions and are either the most dominant or second most dominant player in their respective sectors. Paytm, with a $16 billion valuation, is well into decacorn territory. 

Ahead of time

MobiKwik began as a payments service that offered mobile recharges in 2009. It got the go ahead from the Reserve Bank of India for its e-wallet in 2013

When stacked against these startup giants, MobiKwik is tiny. With a $300 million valuation, 100 million users in total, and a nearly non-existent UPI UPI Unified Payments Interface: It is real-time, mobile-based payments that allows users to pay anyone using any payment app user base, it seems downright preposterous to even mention them in the same breath.

This wasn’t always the case. MobiKwik was an early entrant into the e-wallet race, arriving in 2013 soon after Paytm. However, it was quickly pushed to the periphery by the Ant Group-backed company’s deep pockets and gluttony for scale. MobiKwik, bootstrapped for the first few years of its existence and having raised $131.8 million in 12 rounds, couldn’t afford to compete.

Demonetisation, when the Indian government invalidated 86% of the country’s legal tender, cemented MobiKwik’s also-ran status. Paytm had onboarded more merchants and could afford to give users cashbacks for making transactions, says a former MobiKwik executive. He did not want to be named as he did not want to be seen speaking about a former employer. 

The e-wallet moat itself was destroyed that same year with the launch of UPI. “UPI made e-wallets less user friendly as the bank account itself became the wallet,” adds Kumar Amit Sinha. Senior director at Razorpay, a payments processing company on the verge of attaining unicorn status, Sinha is a former MobiKwik executive. Mandatory KYC requirement KYC requirement Know your customer/client KYC or KYC check is the mandatory process of identifying and verifying the identity of the client when opening an account and periodically over time.

AUTHOR

Pranav Balakrishnan

Pranav writes about the business of moving people and things around, i.e, mobility and e-commerce. Over the past two years, he has written about Ola, Tesla, Flipkart, Amazon, and the increasing role played by Reliance Industries in the Indian technology story. Pranav joined The Ken from Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, specialising in business journalism.

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