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We Intend To Provide Solutions To People Who Don't Understand Online Transactions: Praveen Dhabhai, Payworld

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Praveen Dhabhai, COO, Payworld, shares company's business model, revenue model and future plans

Enlighten us on Payworld's business model. What gaps are you trying to fill? Who would you count as your key competitors?
Payworld an aggregator of financial services is catering to a low-income group in semi-urban and rural India. The firm aggregates basic banking services like money remittance, SME lending, cash-out facility, loan repayment facility and utility bill payments, in addition to other digital services such as mobile recharging, bus/train/flight ticket booking, as well as insurance from various service providers. Payworld aggregates these services into one single platform and provides them to retailers like Kirana stores (small, usually family-owned shop selling groceries and other sundries) and mobile shops. Retailers can then sell any of these services to people, who walk into their shop. Payworld Money is a central bank RBI-approved pre-paid instrument-digital/mobile wallet issuer, which has users doing primarily domestic money remittances through the assisted mode. The wallet is also accepted as payment options on many websites for recharges, remittances, e-shopping and bill payments. It has also integrated its Aadhaar-enabled payment system with retail outlets, which allows the customer to withdraw cash, deposit cash, transfer and access bank statements without having to visit the branch.

For Indians living in extreme poverty, digital transactions are challenging. The population is largely uneducated or are unaware of the existence of digital facilities which can bring ease to their lives. Most of the fintech companies and banks are catering to the urban population and the privileged section of the society, ignoring the poor or the uneducated.

Payworld sought to reverse the trend. The company primarily catered to the migrant labor population, who needed to send money back home, as well as people who don't know how to use a debit card/internet banking to carry out transactions online. Payworld money transaction solutions are also intended for people who don't know how to buy a train ticket or purchase an insurance policy online. Payworld's mobile PoS devices are used by retailers to accept payments from their customers through credit/debit card for the goods/services sold to them. This device also works as a mini ATM, which means anyone can withdraw up to Rs 2,000 from any partner retail outlet by swiping their debit/ATM card. The ultraportable device can be used to enable card acceptance at the customer's doorstep as well.

The key competitors are Ebix Cash ( earlier Itz Cash ), Oxigen, Spice Money etc.

What's the rationale behind focusing exclusively on rural customers? Do you not face resistance in that segment in terms of skepticism related to any financial services outside the realm of the traditional?
We wanted to focus on people, who don't have the bandwidth and knowledge to use a debit card/internet banking to fill money in his wallet and then do a transaction. We are targeting people who are otherwise difficult to reach out to. Banks continue to follow traditional methods of distribution and found the delivery daunting. So, they prefer easy large-ticket lending. The inclusion of the last man in the pyramid - that vegetable vendor or the village tailor or the cycle repair mechanic - never happened. We aimed to reach the commoners.
 
How do you reach out to your existing and prospective customers? Is yours an online or FoS model of engagemen
t?
We have FoS and about 2100 Distributors spread across India and they acquire and engage Retailers for Payworld, lately, we have implemented online onboarding for retailers directly with Payworld.

How has your experience been so far when it comes to Mutual Fund distribution within the rural populace? Do they adequately understand the risks and rewards associated with Mutual Fund investing?  
We have started very recently with Mutual Funds, our experience so far is our retailers are taking it positively and as per feedback from these retailers for whom the training is being given, the risk and rewards need to be explained to people in smaller cities which are being done by our trained retailers.
 
Have you raised any capital so far, and do you have any future plans to do so? 
Payworld is so far funded by group & internally as well, however, we are now looking for a strategic partnership and capital to take Payworld to next level.
 
What's your revenue model, and when do you see yourself breaking even? What are your "back of the envelope" plans for the next five years or so?
We get our revenue from various services providers; Payworld has started breaking even month on month. In the next five years will increase our retailer base to Rs 6 lakh & educate them about different financial products offered through Payworld platform.


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