It seems after their fascination with televisions, it is financial services that have piqued the interest of smartphone brands. Weeks after rival Xiaomi entered the credit sector, Realme on Tuesday announced that it too was launching “PaySa”, what is claims to be a “full-fledged” financial services platform.
“Realme PaySa is not just about payments, it is about everything related to money; it may be insurance, it may be savings, it may be lending or it may be whatever you want to do with your money,” Realme India head Madhav Sheth said in an interview with indianexpress.com.
Sheth is clear why the brand created ‘Realme PaySa’ and how it could change the lives of millions of users in both metros and tier-4 and tier-5 cities in a country as large and diverse as India. “I have seen in tier-4 and tier-5 towns, the need for digital payments are getting more and more relevant. And even the smallest of the shopkeepers are trying to go more digital. So I think this is the need of the hour,” he explained.
‘Realme PaySa’ is seen as a full-stack financial services platform and it would cater to the financial needs of individuals and SMEs. It will have four businesses across lending, savings, payment and protection.
The beta version of the app, which can only be downloaded from the Google Play Store, currently offers personal loans for which Realme has tied up with Early Salary. For business loans it has partnered with Lending Card. It also has a free credit report product and screen protection insurance on the platform. Although the app is in beta at the moment, Realme is looking for a full rollout in the first half of 2020.
To head ‘PaySa’, Sheth has hired Varun Sridhar, formerly with BNP Paribas. Sridhar, who has more than 17 years of retail banking experience and understanding of digital payments, started working on the project six to nine months back.
Sridhar recalled how he and team went out and reach out to hundreds of shops and thousands of customers to understand the product. “Our whole focus with ‘Realme PaySa’ is how a Realme customer can improve his financial wellbeing. You buy a phone to live a life. Our responsibility is to make your life easier and happier. And financial services enables that, not doing was not a choice. I think that was the requirement,” he said.
“Madhav’s brief to me was how to make financial services simple and accessible to what we call the emerging India, because today financial inclusion doesn’t mean getting a bank account. Financial Inclusion means having a meaningful inclusion… having a loan, being able to save, being able to protect your phone, your house, your shop, being able to pay that meaningful financial inclusion is what we are supposed to be,” Sridhar explained.
Sridhar also hinted at UPI-based digital payments mobile platform, though the timeline of the launch hasn’t been decided yet. “In India, it’s especially exciting because we see the phenomenal growth of mobile payments. So we see UPI, we also see changing regulations in PPI. Both those things excite us a lot.”
“We are in a very deep evaluation internal project, which should be concluded, hopefully, by the end of January… maybe February, and you should see something on what we are going to do on mobile payments next year,” revealed Sridhar.
With ‘PaySa’, Sheth said, Realme is targeting about 25 million customers in the first two years. That’s an ambitious goal for a brand that was founded just a year and a half ago. “We are trying to reach out to every customer. It may be a Realme or non-Realme customer. The bigger goal is to reach out to maximum households in India and make them digitised,” Sheth said.
Realme has seen a steady rise, from a largely unknown player to become the fourth biggest smartphone brand in India in the third quarter, according to research firm IDC. It now competes with the likes of Xiaomi and Samsung. Many believe that Realme is trying to replicate Xiaomi’s strategy, which recently announced the Mi Credit platform, its digital lending solution in India.
But as it enters into service business with “PaySa” platform, there is already speculation about how Realme plans to take advantage of the financial service and introduce a market for a smartphone lease model. That could be a game-changer, if Realme gets it right with its strategy.
Although Sridhar didn’t reveal the exact plan, he did indicate that Realme is trying to solve how to give outstanding quality and technology in an affordable way through “PaySa”.