What you should know about Chillr-Truecaller merger


Why should a global communication app company acquire a mobile payment company in India? Or why TrueCaller, a Swedish company, known for its caller ID and communication app, should be buying Chillr, a potential and fast growing Indian entity in the Fin Tech sector. This article gives the answer in detail for that.

Sweden comes to Kerala: Truecaller merges Chillr

On 13 th June 2018, an important announcement made headlines, especially in financial news media. The headlines went like "Truecaller acquires Chillr";"Truecaller buys Chillr" etc. The Truecaller blog itself announced it as "Chillr Joins Truecaller".

Truecaller is belonging to a Sweden based entity better known for its call screening app; whereas Chillr is a mobile payment service originally based in Kochi in Kerala a southern State in India.

What is Truecaller

Truecaller app was developed by a Swedish company named True Software, Scandinavia, AB. The app is to find details of a given telephone number globally in order to help to block of unsolicited calls and also to help social media integration to keep phone book update. However, it is more familiar and known for its caller id and block service side. Truecaller arrived in India in 2013. Since then it had grown fast and by June 2017, they claimed that out of their global users India has 60% or about 150 million users- and is the third most used app by Indian Smartphone users.

But why should they acquire a mobile payment app company from India? Let us see about Truecaller pay.

Truecaller Pay In 2017, partnering with ICICI Bank, Truecaller launched UPI-based mobile payment service called "Truecaller Pay". Truecaller Pay allowed users to create their unique Virtual Payment Address (VPA) within the app and instantly send or receive money using any UPI-supported bank in India. The feature was thus available to non-ICICI bank customers also. Users also could recharge their mobiles or pay their mobile bills. Truecaller thus forayed into financial services first time, globally.

Chillr- India's first multi-bank mobile payment platform

Chillr is India's first multi-bank payments app. It was founded by Sony Joy, Mohamed Galib, Anoop Sankar and Lishoy Bhaskaran. Originally it was a Kochi-based technology firm in the name MobME. It has been an innovator in the Indian mobile payment space since 2014.

In March 2015, HDFC launched its Chillr application. Chillr is the first-of-its kind application that is linked directly to the customer's bank account.

The app allows users to send money instantly from their Bank account to anyone in their phone book or to a beneficiary through the 'Account number & IFSC code' or 'UPI ID'. Now Chillr is a multi-bank payment service which works with 52 Banks including HDFC bank. It is almost a one-stop solution for all our payment & mobile banking requirements.

Chillr allows direct access to one's bank account. Users can directly transfer and receive money into their bank account without the involvement of a third-party e-wallet. The user can check the bank balance also. Though Chillr is primarily a money-sharing app users can also recharge the phone, data card and DTH, and make bill payments. Chillr gave the option to add multiple bank accounts in the single app. That means we don't need multiple mobile banking applications for our different bank accounts. All accounts can be managed centrally within Chillr.

Status before merger

After the demonetisation in November 2016, there was an extra focus and push towards the digital economy in India. There was a publicity blitzkrieg that resulted in sudden boost of digital transactions. All those who were on the field gained from this and it encouraged new players to come to the field.

As per National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) data, "Unified Payment Interface (UPI) transactions made a giant leapfrog from just 1,03,060 transactions in October 2016 to 91,67,277 transactions in May 2017, recording a stupendous 89 times growth." Naturally, this was an opportunity for Chillr. They claimed having crossed Rs 500 crore worth of monthly transactions in March 2017. They also disclosed plans to foray into "banking services like credit, savings and insurance".

As far as Truecaller was concerned, it was one of the first MNCs to "on-board digital transactions and UPI". From being a phone number search and mobile id app it grew to launching an all-inclusive communication app, to partnering with ICICI Bank to launch Truecaller Pay and becoming all-inclusive communication app. It is their view that by integrating payments into a communications app like Truecaller, it ensures ease of user behaviour.

The scene became very competitive as after Truecaller pay two big players have entered the scene viz. WhatsApp Pay and Google's Tez. This situation prompted Truecaller and Chillr to come to a strategic relationship.

How the Chillr-Truecaller merger suits both of them Truecaller in its blog post said: We are excited to join our teams together in our development centre in Bangalore and continue to work on bringing mobile payments to the masses.

Sony Joy, Co-founder, Chillr said: "Our roadmap on payments and financial services which when combined with the scale and resources of Truecaller, can create amazing experiences and solve genuine problems at an accelerated pace." After the acquisition, all 45 employees of Chillr will be absorbed within Truecaller. Chillr will also gradually dilute its brand and migrate its existing users to Truecaller. The management team of Chillr would join Truecaller to strengthen core competencies in mobile payment space. Joy added that jointly they aim to develop Truecaller Pay into one of India's top three payment apps over the next two years. Chillr has been scouting for investors and merger opportunities since early 2017.

As of now the amount paid for acquisition is not disclosed.

Post merger aims and plans

The merged entity benefit using Truecaller's 150 million users in India and over 300 existing partners, to enable Truecaller Pay as a platform. Truecaller co-founder and chief strategy officer, Nami Zarringhalam said."We will, together, have a far bigger impact in this space through the foundation of the team's expertise and a strong user base that trusts our platform and use it on a daily basis."

The merged entity aims "to go deeper into mobile payments and other associated financial services" like as loans, financing, micro-insurance and more. The company said that in the coming months, the Chillr app will be phased out integrating many of their features, and brand-new ones, into Truecaller that will further make payments simple and more efficient for users.

To conclude and summarise about the merger, it is, as a headline goes-"Truecaller buys Chillr to build mobile-first payments, financial services company".

Truecaller-Chiller merger image
(Image source: blog.truecaller.com)


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