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Anybody who does cash transaction, has phone is our customer: Kumar Abhishek, co-founder mobileGullak

'When you make cash payment for purchase and don't have exact change then instead of giving candy for remaining balance merchant can transfer the balance to your mobileGullak account.'

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Sep 05, 2014, 08.18 PM IST
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'When you make cash payment for purchase and don't have exact change then instead of giving candy for remaining balance merchant can transfer the balance to your mobileGullak account.'
'When you make cash payment for purchase and don't have exact change then instead of giving candy for remaining balance merchant can transfer the balance to your mobileGullak account.'
Monica looses as much as Rs 100 every month, just because everytime she goes out in café or a grocery shop, there is a problem of 'loose cash', and she often gets back with candies or leaves the small cash amount as a 'tip'. Now if one really calculates every year she loses around Rs 1000-2000, quite a lot to lose for 'loose cash'. Seeing such problems, mobileGullak, a mobility solution founded by Kumar Abhishek, Vivek Singh, and Akshay Singh hopes to mint money with 'loose cash' and solving 'chhutta paisa' problem of many.

In an interview with ET, Kumar Abhishek talks about Koramangala as right mix of customer profiles, and what made mobileGullak to pick Koramangala to launch the product and how it actually works.

What exactly your venture has to offer your clientele?

We provide a digital piggy bank on your phone, which is an RBI approved Zipcash mobile wallet. A customer can use this wallet to save 'Chhutta paisa' or balance change exactly the way we used to do when we were kids, and make payments to local grocery store, milk vendors, café and restaurants. Customers can also load this mobile wallet upto Rs 10,000 per month and use it for making payments to partner merchants such as mobile bill etc.

What is the story behind MobileGullak; tell us about the startup and its brief journey.

It started when I was working as a consultant with a core banking service provider, based out of Singapore and one of my Singaporean friend who returned from a recent visit to India asked me "Why in India we get candies instead of balance cash?"

I With the co-founder Vivek Singh, friend Akshay Singh and under mentorship of Yogesh Andlay started mobileGullak as a research project in March 2012 to understand "How to enable small payments through mobile" including but not limited to solving "Small change problem or Chhutta Paisa".

After getting insights from a year-and-half of rigorous research in places ranging from cities like Delhi-NCR, Pune and Bangalore as well as rural towns like Chanduali in UP, and few prototypes we started building an intuitive product which can enable any phone to make payments.
We launched our patent pending product "Turn a ringtone into wallet" in April 2014

How does it work? Please share the business model of mobileGullak.

When you make cash payment for purchase and don't have exact change then instead of giving candy for remaining balance merchant can transfer the balance to your mobileGullak account. All you need to do is give a missed call to 08088-485525 or register at mobileGullak.in, download your unique ringtone and play it whenever you need to receive balance cash or make payment at partner outlets.

The payment process is exactly same as any card payment, instead of swiping card you need to play your unique ringtone.

Tell us about the segment and technology you are working with, how is the overall industry scenario in India?

Mobile payment is a fragmented but huge market and just the small change problem is more than Rs 4500 crore.

We have around 70 percent of unbanked customers and most of them have mobile phones. So if you connect the dots, in order to be relevant in mobile payment space, the solution has to be as intuitive as cash, could be accessed via any mobile phone and should be focused towards solving cash related pain point for both banked and unbanked customers.

Is there any competition for mobileGullak? How do you standout?

As I mentioned, there are a lot of exciting models getting tried out by various companies, but few mobile payment initiatives have either tried to replicate global payment stories by using QR code or NFC based solution or simply translate internet based payments to a mobile form. This has led to negligible customer adoption.

Who do you target? What is your customer group?

Anybody who does cash transaction and has a mobile phone is our customer. So our customers use mobileGullak to make payments in their office canteens, grocery stores, milk parlours, neighborhood cafes, saloons and restaurants. We have just launched and are seeing some good traction.

Do you have any merchants in Koramangala?

We have few (around 10) saloons and restaurants in Koramangala. And, we now plan to add more merchants.

What is the importance of the region for you as a market?

Koramangala is a good sample market which provides right mix of customer profiles, as it includes college students, office executives and homemakers. Customers in Koramangala are also early adopters.

Being a startup it becomes important that you test your service with every segment and age group of people to ascertain feasibility and Koramangala as a market fits that bill. As we wanted to launch our product in a closed beta, Koramangala was the choice we made.

How "turn a ringtone into wallet" feature is relevant in and around Koramangala?

Koramangala has a lot of cafes, restaurants, grocery stores and saloons where average bill size is small and merchants prefer cash payment. Our mobileGullak product allows merchants to return balance change digitally in customers mobileGullak account when they don't have exact cash to return.
This helps customer to get their money back instead of candy, that too without giving any personal information, linking bank account, hardware and network dependency but just by playing a unique ringtone from their mobile.

What is MobileGullak's growth trajectory?

Instead of starting from a white board, we went to the market and build a product based on our learning's and market feedbacks. We did extensive testing in closed beta and focused on making mobile payments simple, scalable and easy to operate. We already have few paying merchants and in past few weeks have forged partnerships with leading financial service providers. Our next focus is on execution.
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