FreeCharge To Foray Into Lending & Insurance, Does Paytm Have Anything To Worry About?


Soon after joining UPI league, Axis Bank-owned FreeCharge is looking to expand its offering, reports media. This seems to be an obvious path for an eight-year-old company, which was once spearheaded all recharge and wallet companies during its initial days.

On the lines of Paytm, FreeCharge is planning to add more financial services including lending, saving and insurance.

Reports claim that the payments firm will leverage the services of its parent entity and launch these products within next four months.

“We are already seeing decent traction on the app in terms of user adoption, we want to take the services offered on Freecharge a step ahead to all forms of financial services like insurance, loans, and savings through Axis Bank,”

said Sangram Singh, the chief executive officer at Freecharge.

Founded by Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon in 2010, FreeCharge was sold in 2015 to Snapdeal for approximately $400 million as cash and stock deal. Two years later, it was sold in a mere $60 million to Axis Bank, which proved a big loss for the SoftBank-backed e-commerce marketplace.

The Gurugram-based firm has been able to achieve a significant growth in last six months. With over 45 million user base, the Sequoia Capital-backed company has added 2.5 million more users and witnessed a 40 percent jump in monthly active users.

The development comes at a time when payments space led by Paytm has been planning and adding such services on its platform. Paytm has been dominating the market alone.

Paytm intends to invest about Rs 5,000 crore in its core business this year and double the number of quarterly transactions from 1 billion per quarter earlier this year to 2 billion per quarter by end of the year.

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FreeCharge will be directly competing with Paytm, once it joins the fintech club. Other players in mobile wallet and payments space such as Flipkart promoted PhonePe and Mobikwik do not intend to foray into financial services anytime soon.

To support the plans, FreeCharge has also increased its staff strength by 30% to presently around 256 people and has operations across Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Gurgaon where they have built the new head office. 

FreeCharge’s comeback

The company’s regaining of confidence and foray into financial services might be coming from UPI wave which could also help it to bounce back in peer to peer and retail payment segments.

The wallet business is gradually becoming redundant with the adoption of UPI.

Since a large portion of UPI transaction is driven by peer to peer fund transfers, FreeCharge will indeed leverage the NPCI-owned payments platform to regain the lost market share.

With the launch of Google Tez and Paytm, UPI ecosystem has experienced huge growth in 2017. Currently, WhatsApp UPI is in closed beta stage and is due to be used by many once the feature gets open to the public.

So far, the UPI is largely used for peer to peer fund transfer. However, the government has been making efforts to drive its adoption through a slew of initiatives.

It recently asked UPI-based apps to integrate Bharat QR code on their platform. Besides, the government also plans setting up QR Code based payment options across all departments. 

ALSO READ: UPI 2.0 Focuses On Merchants And Recurring Payments And Is Set To Make Its Debut