Processing peer-to-peer payments has been a constant challenge. There have been multiple governments that have tried to achieve a lucrative payment system that enables their people to make payments without dedicated Internet banking or going to the bank.
During the inception of payment systems like Paytm, PhonePe, GPay, etc., the Indian government took initiatives like UPI (Unified Payments System). Seeing an opportunity in the market, PhiCommerce created an omnichannel payment processing platform that combined multiple payment systems such as cards, net banking, NEFT, UPI, etc. With this, the company aimed to enable, streamline, and simplify payments for doorstep, indoor, and outdoor payments. Right now, PhiCommerce is helping over 10,000 businesses achieve their online goals, increase online sales by 200% for their customers, increase conversions, and whatnot.
To understand this journey of PhiCommerce, we have invited Rajesh Londhe to share his experience, and what the company has been doing. Let’s start.
Who is Rajesh Londhe?
1) When in your entrepreneurial journey you realized that there is a market demand for a platform like PhiCommerce?
Let me take you 10 years back. The decision to build a specific platform is now an integral part of our business and our 20-year journey was influenced by the observations we made in the past. Over the two decades of our industry experience, we noticed numerous challenges in payment processing.
In our earlier employment, we realized that various organizations, including banks, enterprises, and large groups of companies, were processing payments using different systems. Managing multiple channels and payment options became a significant challenge. This is when we founded PhiCommerce.
“We decided not to replicate what others were doing. Instead, we aimed to create something that would be future-ready. The motivation behind this decision started from our understanding of the industry's pain points.”
Legacy platforms from previous years became cumbersome for organizations to maintain and operate due to evolving customer demands. This is where we identified a growing need for a solution that could provide a seamless payment experience for consumers.
The product we built in 2015-2016 has gained traction over the last 7-8 years as it addressed the challenges presented by legacy payment platforms. We foresaw the demand for a more efficient and user-friendly system, and that foresight has proven crucial to the success of PhiCommerce. Our platform was not developed in response to demand; rather, it was a proactive step taken before we embarked on the PhiCommerce journey, setting the stage for the innovative solution we have today.
2) Considering the fact that the payment landscape such as UPI has penetrated tier two and tier three cities, how is this impacting your business?
I believe it's on the minds of people and not just in our country. Let me share insights based on our experience. In the broader industry context, what we've witnessed in the last three to four years regarding digital penetration in India is merely the tip of the iceberg. We anticipate at least a tenfold growth in the next couple of years.
This isn't just a subjective feeling; it's an observation of the trends indicating significant growth, not only in UPI but also in other payment modes. Let's delve into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the need for contactless solutions became apparent. People were hesitant to touch physical objects, leading to a surge in the adoption of contactless payments, particularly those facilitated by QR codes.
“While multiple countries tried to make QR codes a successful payment option, India seized the opportunity during the challenging times of COVID-19. “
This period witnessed a rapid acceleration in digitalization, driven by the ease and safety offered by contactless payment methods.
Another contributing factor to India's swift digital growth was demonetization in 2016. This policy accelerated the adoption of digital payment solutions. Returning to UPI, it's crucial to note that it has evolved beyond just facilitating instant payments into a versatile platform. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and the government have introduced various features, such as integrating credit card payments with UPI.
This diversification signals a multi-fold growth trajectory. As of now, if we are conducting X number of transactions monthly, the latest information suggests that this figure will at least multiply tenfold in the next couple of years.
As PhiCommerce, an RBI-regulated payment aggregator and possibly the only Omni Channel payment platform in the country processing all types of payments and modes, UPI remains a cornerstone. We are currently amongst the largest payment aggregators for UPI.
Looking ahead, we aim to actively contribute to the growth strategy in India. Additionally, with our international expansion plans, we intend to take this success story beyond our borders.
3) What is the technological foundation of your payment platform and how secure it is?
The PhiCommerce team has collectively dedicated more than 15 years of our lives to building payment platforms. Drawing from our past experiences, whether it was constructing acquiring systems, developing issuing systems, or working on security-related products like 3D Secure, these endeavors have been our forte. Our background spans various geographies, from Southeast Asia to Latin America, encompassing multiple countries.
“Throughout our journey, we have adhered to a philosophy centered around creating scalable, highly secure platforms while also ensuring cost-effectiveness.”
This approach has been integral to our PhiCommerce journey. One of our fundamental principles is a commitment to openness. By building our platforms on open systems and open-source technology, we ensure independence from external dependencies.
We refer to this commitment as the Triple O principle – Open Systems, Open Source. This philosophy empowers us, as we are not reliant on any external entities. In addition to openness, we prioritize high security and scalability in our systems. Presently, our platforms are exceptionally scalable, benchmarked for 5,000 transactions per second (TPS). Importantly, the architecture is designed for horizontal scalability, making it easy to scale up to 10,000 TPS or beyond when needed.
4) You’ve recently hired a leadership team. How is it looking in the current leadership?
As the founder of the company, we've brought our company to a certain level, and now it's time for us to step into the next phase of growth. Since we embarked on this journey in 2015-2016, our founding team has established a niche and built a robust customer base. However, now we must look to the future.
The future entails growing our company in India, venturing into global expansion, and establishing a leadership team capable of taking us to the next level. Over the past six months, we've assembled a new leadership team with a wealth of experience in various fields, including sales, operations, delivery, marketing, and organizational management.
For instance, one of our leaders brings three decades of experience in managing the BFSI segment, while others boast 20 years of sales experience. We're incredibly excited to have these individuals on board, and we anticipate PhiCommerce experiencing substantial growth over the next two to three years.
5) How PhiCommerce is helping enterprises with omnichannel payment offering?
We are the only Omni Channel payment platform in the country, and it's a genuinely comprehensive solution. Over the past six years, we've implemented multiple Omni Channel solutions, but the Bangalore International Airport stands out as a unique and exceptional use case within the airport ecosystem.
I want to express my appreciation for the efforts put in by Bangalore International Airport to bring something truly unique to our country. When we initiated our journey with the Bangalore International Airport, we collaborated with our banking partner, Kotak Bank. You might have witnessed it as this was covered in the news, where the Bangalore International Airport selected PhiCommerce and Kotak as payment partners to manage their entire payment ecosystem.
Now, if you visit the Bangalore International Airport, you'll notice that it has become one of the best use cases for an airport ecosystem. Whether you're at the airport for F&B, transit hotels, or any other facility, Bangalore International Airport, known for its innovation, introduced an Omni Channel payment mechanism for travelers. This means that whether you're in Mumbai or Delhi, you can book your meal at KFC at Bangalore Airport, a feature that was previously unimaginable.
This Omni Channel approach extends to various transactions, such as booking transit hotels or making purchases, not only within the airport but also in the surrounding Bangalore International City area. This area, with numerous happening places around the airport, is entirely managed by us in terms of the payment ecosystem.
This case at Bangalore International Airport serves as a truly comprehensive Omni Channel use case, and I can assure you that other airports are closely observing and are likely to follow. The impact and success of this model are noteworthy for the entire industry.
6) Your previous tenure has been instrumental in terms of gathering the skillset and the knowledge to establish PhiCommerce. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Absolutely. I began my career in banking, and I spent about six to seven years in that profession. During my time in banking, I played a pivotal role in implementing critical projects, particularly during the early stages of computerization when this field was just emerging. I gained valuable insights and experience in the banking sector during this period.
After my banking stint, I joined ElectraCard Services, a startup that was among the pioneers in the payment space in India. Notably, we were the first payment company in India to build a payment platform entirely from scratch. We successfully provided this platform globally, spanning Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and even Latin America. This journey was crucial in teaching us how to construct a comprehensive payment ecosystem, and these lessons greatly informed our approach to product development.
Following that, I spent some time with Euronet Worldwide, a multinational company originating from Europe. During my tenure there, I had the opportunity to manage multinational customers, including Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank. This experience allowed us to comprehend the critical importance of customer service.
“The insights gained in managing customer expectations have been instrumental in ensuring that PhiCommerce delivers the best services to our customers.”
7) Do you think that Fintech startups have crowded the industry or is there still scope for innovation?
I believe the sky's the limit in today's tech landscape, especially when we talk about various sectors like fintech. From a government and regulatory perspective, fintech has become incredibly critical.
I've engaged in numerous conversations with regulators and government bodies, and it's clear that they don't intend to simplify things. The reason is simple—fintech deals with funds, and funds are of utmost importance. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in particular, has recognized this significance and established a fintech department to regulate the fintech ecosystem.
At PhiCommerce, we play a dual role as both a payment aggregator under regulatory scrutiny and a follower of fintech guidelines defined by the RBI. When regulators step in to provide guidelines for the fintech sector, it signifies their understanding of the vast potential for expanding businesses using fintech solutions. Anything related to managing funds can be addressed through fintech solutions. Therefore, I don't see the sector as saturated; there's ample room for growth.
For organizations with a culture of innovation, finding their niche and expanding their business is always possible. I strongly believe that fintech is the way forward, and we'll witness significant, multifold growth in this ecosystem. Moreover, I confidently assert that India is poised to lead the world in both payments and fintech spaces. This belief stems from the tremendous potential and the commitment to innovation within the Indian fintech landscape.
8) Tell us a little more about your future plans with PhiCommerce and the global expansion.
India is our homeland, and we continue to grow our business there. We've carved out our niche and plan to expand significantly in the Indian market. Additionally, we are in the process of developing separate business lines, although I can't delve into the details at this moment.
On the global front, expansion is already underway. Last month, we officially incorporated in Singapore, marking the beginning of our international journey. We're actively hiring for our international team, with a focus on Southeast Asia and the Middle East initially. Once we establish a strong presence in these markets, we will then turn our attention to the Western part of the world. It's a carefully planned and focused global expansion strategy for the next couple of years, and you'll witness these developments taking shape.
Want to follow the journey of Rajesh Londhe? Check out his LinkedIn. To check out more MobileAppDaily interviews, click on the link provided. To get notified about the latest interviews dropping on our platform, subscribe to MobileAppDaily.
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