Belives, Alok Jha, MD, CyberPlat India, Alok has over two decades of experience across different industry verticals including pharma, advertising, loyalty, ecommerce, payments, polymers and fashion. Apart from leading CyberPlat, Alok mentor’s startups and is also an angel investor with a deep understanding of consumer and service businesses. Prior to CyberPlat, Alok has held leadership position in several companies including, Blow Plast limited, Suvidha, Mudra Communication, Forbes & Co. He is also a coveted visiting faculty at many leading management schools in India. Alok likes to spend his free time in reading and travelling.
Alok Jha in an interaction with Ekta Srivastava talks about the CyberPlat’s journey and the future of mobile payments space in India.
What is the CyberPlat story? Please take us through your journey?
CyberPlat India was established in 2009 in Mumbai. Having established as a leading fintech player in Russia and CIS, Cyberplat’s natural expansion in international market was India due to various comfort factors and potentiality. India was experiencing and enjoying the growth of internet and the upsurge in its users, during that period which made it the right market for us to enter and service potential clients. However, building the organization ground up and staying profitable was difficult because there were already established players in the market and we had the task of creating our space in an established market where we were the last entrants. But, this did not deter us and we focused on offering the right products to our clients at the best price. We remained consistent with our core business proposition and grew business by building long-lasting, strong & trust-worthy relationships with our partners & clients. We strongly believe that it is our duty to provide best services to our existing clients and to keep introducing new products & services for new, as well as old customers. Today, CyberPlat is India’s fastest growing multi-category distribution network.
Mobile payments has been in the news for the past 4 – 5 years with limited uptake, what according to you are one or two biggest developments that have happened and what will drive adoption rate of mobile payments in India?
About 60% of urban India and 17% of rural India is online, due to the steady increase in the rate of internet penetration. The number of smartphone users in India is upwards of 22 crores and the government has been working on laying the foundations for digital payments. The launch of BHIM app, UPI and Bharat QR are aimed towards simplifying payments in the country. Further, during the demonetisation exercise, digital payments saw a sharp spike of up to 300%. Wallet usage went up significantly, making way for more PPIs (Prepaid Payment Instruments), as more people shopped online and used digital wallets to pay utility bills and transfer money online. Card usage also shot up by 50%.
We are also seeing a whole lot of innovation from startups in the fintech space. To quote an instance, Flipkart’s PhonePe app uses UPI to enable payments. There is also Zeta Pay that allows you to pay via instant generated codes—no remembering complex PINs or punching in OTPs. There’s been considerable buzz about WhatsApp and Hike payments, which could be powered by UPI too. Essentially, it is possible today in India to make payments while chatting with your friend on the app, without having to open another e-wallet or bank app on your smartphone. India should look at taking a leaf out of China’s digital payments book, not only because we are similar in scale, but also because the technology is available and is becoming cheaper by the day.
There have been mobile wallets like Paytm, Airtel Money, Money on Mobile, Zipcash, etc. How is Cyberplat different from them?
CyberPlat is different from digital wallets, as it is an integrated payment processing service provider, enabling distribution beyond traditional way. We are a payment product platform and distributors. We help many companies to connect to our platform and access our vast portfolio of products that we distribute digitally. We allow payment instrument providers (like MNOs offering mobile money services or banks offering mobile banking) to easily integrate with entities that want to send money to or receive money from end customers. These entities can be utility companies who want to receive payments, businesses who want to pay salaries or donors who want to pay recipients, for example.
We are India’s fastest growing multi-category distribution network, since 2010, enabling payment collection for domestic money transfers, telecom providers, DTH providers, electricity, gas, insurance companies, wallet top ups etc. We also offer platforms to connect to self-service kiosks, POS terminals, cash desks, online and mobile businesses which further wants to redistribute our basket of products.
Banks, device makers and others also plan to introduce their own mobile wallet service in the next few years. How would Cyberplat be affected by such plans?
Infact, CyberPlat can work with them closely to take them to distribution and power their services with their set of products. It is a positive thing for us.
Data Security is as Crucial as National Security, what will Cyberplat do to protect it?
Data security is of course important, and we have specialists who do take care of that. Like any other company – we follow the good practice of encryption, redundancy and other security protection.
How are you identifying what ‘users want’?
Uses are the king as they are the customers. We do spend time with them to understand the need and pain areas. Pain areas are constantly worked upon to remove or minimise. While for the need we keep adding more and more newer products for people to resell or distribute to their customers.
How do you see your business model scaling up?
Payment space is dynamically changing and evolving. For us in CyberPlat India each such new environment is a good opportunity to build a new line of business. Digital payments have so many things to offer to all of us in payment industry and we will play our role in capitalizing such opportunities
CyberPlat India is looking at targeting both urban and rural stores, on the lines of modern pop stores, the stores which are in the neighbourhood of any common citizen. Currently CyberPlat has over 600,000 retail touch points through partnerships, both in the rural and urban market. CyberPlat is looking at reaching out to about 200,000 more stores over the next 2 years, together with its business partners.
How do you see India as a startup breeding ground in the Mobile Payments space?
Mobile payments is a space that is growing very fast. Things are looking very positive on that front. Yet India still is bigger in non-smart phone base and replacement or adoption of that market is slow due to various reason including education and usability. Coupled with that is the connectivity that needs to improve in this country tremendously. It is happening. India is at the cusp. Urban areas are showing increasing numbers of traction in transactions on mobile tier-2-3and 4 cities will drive the next wave