True Balance is a unique balance management-utility application that delivers innovative digital services that help prepaid users save and manage their mobile balances on the go.
Sean Yu, Vice President of Balance Hero India, interacts with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the company’s business strategy and its future plans and how it is gaining popularity across India.
What are your key focus areas for India? What kind of customers do you have in India?
Last year, we were focused on increasing our user base and then our usability. Our company got the PPI license in July 2017 and we launched our wallet in Nov 2017.
This year, we are in the transition period from being a utility provider to a financial provider. Our focus for the next 2-3 years would be to provide small finance to people in India. Payments, transfers and loans are the three major areas we are focused on. Prepaid users are our primary user base but now we have also started providing a postpaid balance check and other features like DTH, electricity gas payments.
In a market like India where so many digital disruptions happening, there are many innovative startups coming in. What are some of the big innovations coming from True Balance?
Initially, prepaid users had to use the USSD code to check their mobile balance. With a service like ours, users can easily check their balance without having to remember multiple USSD codes. Prepaid users generally have multiple SIM cards. With services from True Balance, a user does not need to upload lengthy details. In fact, multiple purpose balances and services are just a click away from them.
How many customers do you have in India as of now?
We have an impressive 60 million downloads and are still counting. We have a good user base. A few million monthly active users also love the app features.
So, what kind of users are these? Is there any age group that you see?
Smartphone users between the age of 18 – 30 use our services. Our main user base is primarily prepaid users with a salary range of INR 10-15k a month. Another set of our users are what we call the ‘unbanked’ users.
These are the users who distrusts the digital payment and mobile internet banking or do not hold any bank account or don’t want to make any payments through their mobiles. They are introduced to our digital touch points which help them make payments easily.
What will be your go-to-market strategy to reach out to rural India? Are you looking for partnering with other organisations?
We run a special marketing activity called Member Get Member (MGM). If the True Balance app is referred to a friend, then both parties can earn some free points. So, most of our users use the MGM marketing which in turn eventually leads to an increase in our user base. As such our user base has been increasing steadily not only through the google play store but the user acquisition happens through our own MGM channel.
How big is this channel? how many MGM members do you have?
Since our initial focus was on acquiring new users, we were able to get on board two lakh users daily through this MGM channel. Now that we have successfully increased our user base, we are reducing the cost of acquisition and will be focusing more on generating revenue.
How many cities are you planning to touch completely in India including the rural parts?
Currently our users are spread out pan India with most of them being from rural areas. Once we introduce more products and services, we will extend our outreach to semi-urban and urban areas as well. Despite having lesser marketing budgets compared to other fintech players, we have still been actively acquiring users.
What is your strategy to spread brand awareness. As you mentioned, apps like Paytm are quite big and have spent a lot of money on their branding?
We are using active marketing tools like cash-backs. In our recharge membership programme, members who recharge for at least INR 500 every month are considered gold members. These members are given better cash-back rates and receive more cash-backs which in turn motivates them to recharge and use our app more. It’s a self-feeding cycle that works wonderfully for us.
What is the big USP that you are providing to your customers. Why should a person sitting in rural India use your app?
True Balance is gradually progressing from a balance-check app to a utility app. Every user can check not only their balance, but also all other outstanding amount for postpaid with just a click and utility bills will be coming soon.
Services such as ours make it easy for users in rural India with no internet access to easily check their balances. Even though as a nation, we are moving towards a more digitised economy, in our target area which is Rural India, cash is still the preferred mode.
So, we constantly strive to create products catering to their needs; which sets our context for small loans for utility services. The other thing is that after checking the balance, users can also easily make payments directly through this app. They get more cash-back which they can invest later back into our service.
And what is your revenue model?
Since our service is commission based, it does not generate high revenues. India is growing at 7 – 8 per cent every year and so will the users with an INR 10-15 k salary. Keeping this in mind we are now introducing payments of telephone bills, electricity bills, DTH bills, etc., that will add more to the user experience.
For the next six months to one year we will focus more on the products. Once we have enough products to offer, we will gain the users. Initially, we will have a small product and service. We will keep adding more features to this and will then leave it to the users to acknowledge and grow the service.
So, in the coming months what kind of features can we expect from the product?
There is a definite potential of the fintech domain in India. We have currently launched gift card feature and have introduced the service to our users. We are trying for KYC and we believe that will be sorted soon because the government is working on it. UPI is one of the big trends and we are gradually trying to enter the UPI space. We will release the UPI feature in our services by the end of this year once the Aadhaar verdict and KYC issues are resolved.
Do you have in-built authentications?
Yes, we do. Recently, we launched the gift card because we didn’t know whether we can provide the KYC or not. There is a minimum usage for every month and the users open their wallet with KYC. Then, after one year they need to update the KYC, failing which they cannot add more money. So, we launched the gift card because if you are a non-KYC user, you would not have to worry about the monthly wallet limit and can use the Gift card to transact within the app ecosystem. App users can directly add the gift card of any amount from the true balance app.
So, users can share these gift cards?
Yes, the gift card is transferable; users may gift the gift card to their loved ones on any special occasion. The other person can also use it again and redeem it for the services provided by True Balance only. For people residing in rural areas who are using our service but don’t have debit, credit and net banking services can also use our gift card without the need of sharing bank details.