This post is part of our new Future of Finance series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Rahul Chari, Founder & CTO of PhonePe.
1. What’s the history of PhonePe? Where and how did you begin?
RC: PhonePe is a consumer-facing payments container that allows users to use the payment instrument of their choice (cards, wallet and/or direct-from-bank payments using the UPI rails). PhonePe was co-founded in 2015 by Sameer Nigam, Rahul Chari and Burzin Engineer. The company was acquired by Flipkart in April 2016. With over 75 million installs, the PhonePe App drives the highest number of merchant UPI transactions in India. Using PhonePe, users can send and receive money, recharge mobile, DTH, datacards, make utility payments, buy gold and shop online and offline. Customers can also use PhonePe as a payment option across 60 thousand offline and online merchant outlets covering food, travel, groceries, movie tickets etc.
2. What specific problem does PhonePe solve? How do you solve it?
RC: Money is a source of comfort and security but it also brings in stress. PhonePe’s role is to ensure that using, managing and growing your money is completely stress free. In doing so we have first taken on the responsibility of allowing you to use your money in the easiest and most convenient manner without compromising on security. PhonePe is a digital payments container that does not requiring a user to lock in their funds in a pre-paid / stored value instrument. A payments container is a reflection of the user’s physical wallet, in the digital world. Any financial instrument of choice – cheques, credit cards, debits, gift cards and pre-paid cards – can be stored and used in their digital format using PhonePe for money transfers, online purchases and in-store purchases. Going forward, the role of PhonePe will also expand to managing your finances and helping you make your money work for you.
3. What’s the future of finance?
Prediction #1: P2P Lending – Peer to Peer lending is the answer to microlending at scale. With data-driven risk modeling, the ability to make risk-free decisions in peer to peer lending is at an all-time high making this the future of micro-financing.
Prediction #2: Credit On-Tap – India will leapfrog the traditional credit card model to adopt a contextual and personalized credit model that is mobile driven and on Tap. The credit limits and the repayment schedules themselves will be diverse based on individuals and use cases. This is what will bring credit to a very large new to credit population.
Prediction #3: Goal-driven Savings – Everything from buying your next iPhone to retirement will be goals laid out by individuals with customized plans to achieve each one of those driven by systems.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends you’re seeing in finance?
Trend #1: Open Banking – After extensive unbundling of banking services, the new trend is rebundling of specific services to offer digital banking through third-party channels with the services, security and trust of traditional banks as fulfillment providers.
Trend #2: Robo Advisory – Data-driven decisioning will drive the future investments of a very large populous when it comes to investments. Deep learning will form the basis of systemic investment advisory.
Trend #3: Blockchain – Use of blockchain technology will move from just cryptocurrency to other aspects of financial investment and book-keeping.
5. Why is the finance industry ripe for disruption?
RC: The finance industry has been significantly driven by profit making as the primary decision driver with customer needs and customer aspirations being secondary. Moreover, the focus so far for retail channels in finance has been about information dissemination at the cost of information overload causing consumer confusion. And an over-indexing on security at the cost of ease and convenience. All of these make the finance industry ripe for disruption through better consumer understanding through data, improved UX without compromising on security and increased transparency and awareness for the consumer using technology.
About Rahul Chari
Rahul is the founder and CTO at PhonePe – a new-age mobile payments and fintech company. PhonePe was acquired by the Flipkart group in April 2015 and continues to operate as a fully-owned subsidiary of the Flipkart group.
He comes with over 15 years of experience covering Embedded Systems (SAN Switching, Storage Virtualization, SAN based RAID), Enterprise S/W Development (SAN based Data Migration, Remote Replication, iSCSI, IP over FC, FC2-4 stack) and E-Commerce Platforms & Applications (Digital Media platforms, Websites/Mobile Apps, E-Commerce Supply Chain Systems)
Prior to PhonePe, Rahul was at Flipkart as Vice President of Engineering. He joined Flipkart in 2011 through the acquisition of Mallers Inc. He spearheaded the Supply Chain technology division at Flipkart. In his role, he was responsible for building the best-in-class supply chain management system for e-commerce covering order management, warehousing & transport management and eCommerce fulfillment innovation to create value for customers at Flipkart.
Prior to Flipkart, Rahul co-founded Mallers, Inc. in 2009 and served as its Chief Technology Officer. He built MIME360, the flagship product of Mallers Inc, which was a platform for management and distribution of digital content to various legal online streaming sites and apps. Prior to Mallers Inc, Rahul was with the Data Center Business Unit at Cisco Systems. At Cisco Systems, he was part of the team that developed the market changing MDS 9000 family of SAN switches. He was leading a team working on advanced storage solutions for the SAN. He architected and executed the development of solutions such as SAN Based Data Migration and Extended SCSI Copy for the SAN. Rahul came into Cisco through the acquisition of Andiamo Systems, a Storage Area Network (SAN) switching and SAN-based storage services company. He is named on multiple Storage Virtualization related patents and has been actively involved in storage technologies and standards such as SCSI, Fibre Channel, iSCSI and RAID.
Rahul holds a Masters degree in Computer Science from Purdue University, USA and a Bachelors degree in Computer Engineering from Bombay (Mumbai) University, India (Gold Medalist).