Post-demonetization, 'payment' has become a magic word in the startup world. The Paytms and Mobikwiks of the world are still enjoying a honeymoon period and now there is a new kid on the block, Hike.
The youth-oriented instant messaging service has brought UPI (Unified Payment Interface) to its platform today with its own e-wallet feature. Looks like every time someone asks, "How many wallets is too many wallets?" — the Indian startups' answer is to add one more to the kitty.
Hike, which has more than 100 million registered users on its platform, has rolled out a new interface today with a bunch of features, and the 'payments' feature holds the pride of place in the new setup.
After a user activates the wallet feature, Hike re-verifies their phone number. Simultaneously, it also checks if there are any bank accounts linked to the number through UPI. And then, the user can transfer money from one bank account to another through the messenger service. While there has definitely been a hike in the number of digital payments in India (pun intended) there is still no clarity on how peer-to-peer payment services have fared.
Hike said that it has added the wallet facility to facilitate the recharging of mobile numbers, among other things, because of its young user base. If youngsters don't have a bank account their parents can recharge the wallet for them for phone recharge or for payment to others.
Hike has a fun feature called Blue Packets as well where you can send money as a sticker and the amount is a surprise for the receiver. This packet can be sent to a group as well, with plenty of options to choose how to distribute the money.
It is no secret anymore that India's most used application, WhatsApp, is also looking to jump into the payments sector. WhatsApp has an active user-base of 200 million in India, but Hike is unfazed.
"We have a very active user-base," Mittal said. "Each of our user spends 24 minutes a day on an average. And we are the first movers in this sector, so we have that advantage." While there is no indication that this would translate into Hike users using its wallet facility, the wallet plus UPI is a great combination. Paytm's own payment bank will also be on the UPI platform by August, according to reports.
Hike is following in the footsteps of WeChat, emulating what it did in China. It wants to be a multi-channel engagement platform for its users. Hike already has mini-apps for games, cricket scores, news and more. In the new version, it has reintroduced a feature called Timeline, that can be compared to the Facebook wall. Users can post text, photos, and videos on the Timeline and a friend can like a post multiple times. And, of course, there is also the disappearing stories, because — you can run from Snapchat but you can't escape it.
Other new features include 'text to sticker' and 'selfie beautification'. (Mittal assures that Hike has taken care not to allow the 'whitewashing' of faces.) One of the most important updates relates to user security. All exchanges across the Hike app are now encrypted with 128 bits.
Hike plans to release its active user numbers by the end of the year. The Ken has previously reported that the platform has around 30 million monthly active users. The application aims to have more engaged users and not just bank on numbers. It will be worth watching whether older users are tempted to hop on the revamped Hike train.