Truecaller buys Indian mobile payments startup Chillr

Photo: Truecaller

Stockholm-based Truecaller, owned by True Software Scandinavia AB, on Wednesday acquired Mumbai-based mobile payments start-up Chillr (Backwater Technologies Pvt Ltd) for an undisclosed amount.

This is Truecaller’s first ever acquisition in the India market, according to a company statement. Both companies are backed by common investor Sequoia Capital.

Truecaller started off in India as an online directory for mobile phone numbers, and later expanded into call management, messaging, and instant payments through UPI. With the Chillr acquisition, Truecaller plans to launch mobile recharges, bill payments, and other utility payment services under its ‘Truecaller Pay’ feature.

Trucaller is betting on the UPI wave, and going for a facelift that will see banking and payments as a core offering. The company said it will eventually get into consumer credit and other financial services in the coming months.

Backwater Technologies Pvt. Ltd was founded by Sony Joy, Anoop Sankar, Mohamed Galib and Lishoy Bhaskaran in 2014. Chief executive Joy said in a press meet that the Chillr brand, which includes a mobile app, will be slowly phased out, and its users will be prompted to move to Trucaller to continue performing payments.

All 45 employees, including engineers and designers at Chillr, will now move to Truecaller, added Nami Zarringhalam, chief strategy officer of Truecaller. Joy will join Truecaller as the vice-president of Truecaller Pay.

Truecaller claims to have over 100 million daily active users (DAUs) globally, and according to Zarringhalam, a large part of this comes from India where it claims to have more than 150 million registered users.

Truecaller had started working with UPI since March 2017, through a tie-up with private sector bank ICICI Bank. The company had hinted on its big bet into payments at that time. On the other, the UPI-based payment system has seen widespread adoption by private and public sector banks in India, as well as big companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook (via WhatsApp payments) and Flipkart. Almost all mobile wallets in the country also support UPI.

“Since launching Truecaller Pay in 2017, we’ve seen an increasing number of use cases to make the lives of our users in India easier. By acquiring Chillr, we are reaffirming our commitment to mobile payments and strengthening our plans to increase its adoption amongst our user base,” said Zarringhalam.

“After spending time with the founders and the Truecaller team, we have realised that we share a lot of synergies, values, culture, and a sharp focus on user experience. Our roadmap on payments and financial services which when combined with the scale and resources of Truecaller, can create amazing experiences and solve genuine problems at an accelerated pace,” added Joy.

This article was first published on livemint.com