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Walmart-owned PhonePe crosses 500 million lifetime registered users

By Peerzada Abrar
November 09, 2023 12:57 IST
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Walmart-owned fintech firm PhonePe said it has crossed 500 million lifetime registered users on its platform.

With this milestone, 1 in 3 Indians are now on PhonePe.

The company said it is the first Indian internet company to have reached this scale globally.

This milestone has been achieved in just over 7 years since the PhonePe UPI (Unified Payments Interface) payments launched in August 2016.


“When we started PhonePe, I had never imagined that we would get to 50 crore registered users in such a short span of time.

"It feels almost surreal,” said Sameer Nigam, founder and chief executive officer of PhonePe.

“Yet, we have achieved only 50 per cent of our vision statement of bringing digital payments to 100 crore Indians.”

The firm competes with players such as Google Pay, Paytm, and Amazon Pay in the digital payments space.

The firm has also elevated some of the key executives to take on larger roles in the group.

These executives have played a pivotal role in driving PhonePe’s growth.

In their new roles, they will be responsible for the end-to-end management of various businesses, while also owning the strategy and growth for their respective verticals.

Hemant Gala has been promoted to the role of CEO for PhonePe’s Lending business.

Gala has been part of the founding team at PhonePe and has worked across multiple businesses over the past 7 years.

He was part of the core team at PhonePe building the Payments business from the early days and then helped seed the Financial Services businesses in the last few years.

Vishal Gupta has been promoted to the role of CEO for PhonePe’s Insurance business. At PhonePe, he has been part of the founding team.

He played multiple leadership roles across product, design, risk, and customer experience to build and scale the payments and merchants business.

Vivek Lohcheb has been promoted to the role of CEO for the company’s e-commerce platform Pincode and will be responsible for scaling the Pincode offering across key cities in India.

Previously, Lohcheb headed the Offline Business at PhonePe, where he was responsible for expanding the company’s offline merchant network and acceptance.

Ujjwal Jain was recently promoted to the role of CEO of the company’s stock broking platform ‘Share.Market’.

He will be heading the firm’s Wealth and Broking business.

Previously, Jain founded WealthDesk and created a curated research baskets category on broking called WealthBasket to address the challenges faced by the funds and broking industry as a whole.

“As we look to the future, we felt that this is also a great time to redesign the organisation, and elevate some of the key PhonePe executives to take on larger roles in the group,” said Nigam.

“I would like to congratulate them as they take on their new roles, and help build multiple exciting new businesses for PhonePe Group.”

The fintech startup’s UPI play gave it a boost, even as many banking and tech companies failed to tap digital payments at scale.

“We got lucky as we bet on UPI (unified payments interface) before everyone jumped on the bandwagon,” said Sameer Nigam, founder and chief executive officer of PhonePe, during a recent fireside chat at the Business Standard BFSI Insight Summit in Mumbai.

Later, big tech companies like Google, Meta-owned WhatsApp, and Amazon also came up with UPI-based platforms.

But PhonePe, according to Nigam, had the belief that it would win because it was willing to deploy a large workforce on merchant acceptance and operations.

PhonePe has about 10,000 employees on its rolls.

There also are some 20,000 people working on contract.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, PhonePe got about 150,000 freelancers to acquire merchants in rural India.

The company successfully digitised over 36 million offline merchants across Tier-II, -III and -IV towns, and beyond, covering 99 per cent of India’s PIN codes.

Payments were enabled through millions of PhonePe QR codes, including smart speakers installed at small businesses across the country.

The other important factor in PhonePe's success, he said, was that it welcomed regulations and was comfortable with being regulated.

Though PhonePe is owned by Walmart, Nigam said that the retail giant's backing only came after the firm had set up its guard rails.

Its investors paid Rs 8,000 crore in tax, largely led by Walmart, to allow the firm to change its domicile from Singapore to India.

Nigam, who founded PhonePe in December 2015, has transformed it into a full financial services platform.

The company also launched the Indus Appstore developer platform to confront the might of Google in the app marketplace.

Nigam said the company was now laying the foundation for an IPO.

It was also trying to bring more independence to its board.

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Peerzada Abrar
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