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Interview

 
 



India’s largest mall on your mobile: ngpay

Abhijit Bose
VP Product Marketing
 
  TT Correspondent |  New Delhi | 06/02/2009

With an aim to provide the most convenient mode of interface between the consumers and merchants i.e. through mobile phones, ngpay has witnessed rapid growth in the last few years. TelecomTiger provides more insight on the company and its future business plans in an interaction with Abhijit Bose, VP Product Marketing, ngpay

 

Q.1) What is ngpay all about?

Ans: ngpay is India’s largest mall which is located entirely on a user’s mobile phone.  Users simply download a free application and they can immediately access end-to-end mCommerce services such as shopping, ticket purchase, bill payment, banking, food ordering, etc from 80+ businesses. 

 

ngpay has spent over four years in research and development before launching into mass market.  A lot of this R&D was focused on ensuring that the application is highly secure, provides an interactive & user friendly experience, and uses minimum memory space so that it can work on any entry-level handset (ngpay is only 64kb and can be downloaded on phones costing as low as Rs 2,000).  

 

Users can download ngpay – for free - by simply sending “ngpay” to 56767 via SMS or visiting our website (www.ngpay.com).  When a user opens the ngpay application he/she will be able to choose and interact with any partner in the ngpay network which includes over 80 businesses across 10 sectors including entertainment, travel, shopping, banking, utility bill payments, donations as well as soon to be launched services for ordering food.

 

Users can make the payments through various options including credit, debit and cash cards. With no need to subscribe for any data plan from the operator to use the services, a basic GPRS connection is all that is required. The average per transaction price for a user comes out to be less than 50 paise which is less than that through a SMS channel.

 

For merchants, ngpay works as a sales channel reaching customers anywhere in the country.  ngpay’s technology and business model makes it easy for any business – large or small – to make their catalog of products & services immediately available to the entire growing ngpay user base in the country.

 

Q2) In India, generally people avoid any kind of online financial transactions due to apprehensions regarding security. In such an atmosphere what is your strategy to convince customers to use your services?

Ans: With anything new, there is always some apprehension – especially when doing online financial transactions.  This isn’t specific to India – when eCommerce sites like Amazon.com and eBay launched in the US, there was equal apprehension about entering credit cards onto a website.  The good news is that mCommerce has evolved from eCommerce and every credible mCommerce service employs not only the best practices & security technology used for the PC, but has additional security that makes the mobile as safe, if not more, than using the Internet on the PC.

 

At ngpay there has been more than enough R&D done to make the application secure.  ngpay is 100% compliant with the RBI guidelines which came out in last year.  All data is encrypted using the most stringent banking & financial norms.  In addition, at ngpay, we do not store any financial data.  Besides that, before a transaction is carried out on ngpay the user has to enter a unique six digit PIN number and linked to the user’s handset.  This is similar to using an ATM card.  The card is useless without the unique PIN and vice versa.  Hence, even if the user’s mobile phone is lost/ misplaced, it cannot be misused.  I would say it has better security than even the PC.  If I know your Amazon password for example, I can log onto ANY PC and commit fraud on your account.  Not so, with ngpay.

 

A user should look at the following aspects to make sure that the online transaction done on mobile or PC is secure –

 

• Ensure that there is two-factor authentication for any service for which you sign up (e.g. handset + PIN in the case of ngpay) and that your PIN is never stored on the handset.

 

• When possible, make sure the transaction is done using GPRS and not SMS.  (SMS is not real time and plain text SMS has already been identified as insecure by RBI for financial transactions).  

 

• Look for services that have tied up with and been approved for financial transactions by reputable banks.  It took us over 1 year to launch our comprehensive banking services with HDFC Bank due to the immense testing & security certifications that were required to be approved by them.

 

Q3) Your advertisement claims to register transactions every 1.5 sec. Do you feel that the 80,000 transactions registered daily provides a healthy business proposition considering the fact that services like yours tend to flourish in a low margin high volume environment?

Ans: Our business has shown some interesting results, but we are in early stages yet – which makes mCommerce such an exciting market.  The numbers will inevitably climb by a factor of thousands if not millions in the next 1-2 years!    Why?  The mobile is simply a cheaper and more convenient alternative to the PC for completing electronic transactions.  Hence, the way to think about the market is (a) how big will eCommerce be in India, and (b) what % of those transactions will happen over the mobile.

 

Qualitatively, the mCommerce market will most certainly be a multi-billion dollar market supporting millions of transactions.  The simple fact is that eCommerce is a multi-billion dollar market in Europe and the US.  The demographics in India will dwarf both those markets.  When you consider the size and growth of the Indian consumer class (who will very likely be interested in consuming eCommerce) + the # mobile users vis-à-vis PC users, then you can certainly conclude that (a) eCommerce will take off in India as a multi-billion dollar market and (b) the mobile will be the logical channel for consuming a large percentage of it.   As the market leader in mCommerce, we certainly expect to see our transactions continue to grow quickly as the market accelerates further.

 

Q4) What are your plans in 2009?

Ans: We already have over 200,000 consumers who have registered with and use ngpay.  Our focus for 2009 is simple – build on our strengths & accelerate our business.  This means

 

• adding many more users,

 

• adding many more services - including new regional & SMB partners, and

 

• continuing to enhance the features & user experience in the ngpay application

 

Q5) What is the impact of current global meltdown on VAS companies, particularly in mobile payment field?

Ans: The good news is that our business is much more than mobile payments.  The current environment has not really hurt us.  We are still growing quickly in terms of users and transactions.  Each month sets a new record for us – December was our best month to date, and January will easily surpass that. 

 

I think one reason for this is that ngpay doesn’t simply provide a single service such as bill payment.  Because we uniquely offer many services & partners in a single place on the mobile, there are always many reasons for a user to open ngpay on a daily or weekly basis. 

 

Q6) What is the impact of mobile payment policy guidelines announced by RBI on independent service providers like ngpay?

Ans: ngpay is, and has always been, 100% compliant with the RBI guidelines.  This is because we spent many years thinking about and developing a robust security framework designed to support end-to-end security for mCommerce transactions.   Hence, the RBI guidelines have not impacted our business in any way.  In fact, we think that the RBI guidelines are very well balanced.  They ensure robust, end-to-end security while not restricting the flexibility that banks have in deploying next generation mobile services.

    
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