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Watch: Freecharge CEO Siddharth Mehta on neo-banking and new growth frontiers

7 Jan, 2021

Founded as a wallet by Cred’s Kunal Shah, and Sandeep Tandon, Freecharge has since changed quite a few owners and leaders, finally resting with Axis Bank, who acquired it from Snapdeal in 2017. Having lost the pureplay payments game to fintech giants such as Google Pay, Paytm, and PhonePe, Freecharge has now set its sights on carving a new path as a payments-led  financial services company.

In an interview with TechCircle, CEO Siddharth Mehta shared how the company is looking to co-create financial products for both B2C and B2B customers with the parent Axis Bank, which is also one of the leading banks in the country. 

In September last year, the company launched its first product in the long-term pipeline of launches set for the next six to nine months. It started offering online fixed deposit accounts in Axis Bank, which could be opened in a matter of minutes through OTP-based KYC processing. These accounts could be managed through the Freecharge app as well. 

“We have been getting almost 50,000 visitors on the platform daily who come to check out the product,” Mehta said.

In the coming months, the focus will be to offer Buy Now, Pay Later products and eventually start a neo bank. The fintech company has utilised the pandemic months to test out and launch several new products including gold loans, mutual funds, small ticket personal loans, and remote payments on the merchant side, to name a few. Having a national bank as a partner has made the testing process much more agile as it doesn’t have to look around for a banking partner each time. Once the neo bank launches, these products will become a part of that vertical.

The pandemic has helped Freecharge grow its payments business, which is still dominant in terms of  revenue share for the company. “One of the highest customer engagement areas has been in payments because it is a ubiquitous need of the consumer and merchants and most of our revenue is currently driven through payments. In the merchant business we saw an uptake in the remote payment solutions in the offline ecosystem and that business is growing at almost 20% month over month for the last 6 months,” he said.  

Mehta took over the reins of Freecharge in August 2019 from Sangram Singh. He has been associated with Axis bank as a vice president heading commercial and prepaid cards business since 2015. 

The next year, Mehta believes will be dominated by lending products to create consumer demand. 

Currently, 60% of its business comes from non-metro cities. On the B2B front, 70% of the transactions happen in the metros. 

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