Bharti Airtel announced the appointment of enterpreneur Manish Khera as CEO of Airtel Money. Khera has recently been the co-founder and managing director of financial products company YTS Solutions. The The telecom operator has additionally acquired the Mumbai-based company to boost its mobile commerce segment.
The acquisition, the first of its kind by an Indian telco in the mobile commerce segment, will help in expanding the portfolio of Airtel Money, a mobile wallet, even as the telco awaits the Reserve Bank of India’s decision on its application for a payments bank licence, the company said in a statement.
Vodafone has M-Pesa, Idea Cellular has Idea Money and Tata Teleservices has MRupee, and all of them compete with the likes of PayTm, MobiKwik, PayU and Oxigen for a share of the fast growing mobile commerce space. It is also expected to bring in a host of new product capabilities targeted at migrants in urban cities and their families in rural towns and villages, driving financial inclusion.
“With Airtel’s large customer base, nationwide presence and existing infrastructure, we believe there are synergies which will strengthen the entity’s position in the mobile payments industry,” YTS Co-founder and CEO Shweta Aprameya said in a separate statement
Digital wallets allow consumers to buy through devices such as mobile phones, are becoming increasingly popular in India, as indicated by an almost three-fold surge in the number of such transactions recorded between February and April. It is also attracting huge investment interest in companies offering such services.
For instance, Paytm raised $200 million from Ant Financial, an Alibaba Group firm that controls its Alipay arm, in February this year in exchange for a 25% stake. Other players like Reliance Jio, which is expected to launch its own wallet service called Jio Money and Aircel are also securing mobile wallet licence.
As per the release, YTS, a start-up that was set up in 2013 has developed innovative financial products focused on mass market and micro-transactions. YTS’ payments and remittance businesses will be integrated with Airtel M-Commerce Services Ltd (AMSL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Airtel that operates under the Airtel Money brand.
AMSL launched Airtel Money in 2011 as India’s first pre-paid mobile wallet by a telecom services provider and recently launched cross-border money transfer service for its mobile wallet customers in Africa, where Airtel Money had a customer base of 6.2 million as of March this year.
“His (Khera) rich domain expertise will add immense value to our plans and help lead our mobile commerce and payments business to reach millions of underserved Indians,” said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO of Bharti Airtel, India & South Asia, commenting on Khera’s appointment.