Swedish Startup Truecaller Gets Into Mobile Payments in India

Swedish startup Truecaller has become the newest entrant in India’s busy digital payments space, via a tie-up with ICICI Bank Ltd. to offer a local mobile-payments service.

The caller-ID service and spam-filtering startup announced on Tuesday that users can send and receive money through its smartphone app without passwords or banking codes. The service links bank accounts and sits atop Truecaller’s mobile-identity service, which was the third-most downloaded app in India last year.

“We want to take digital transactions to the masses in India,” Alan Mamedi, Truecaller co-founder and chief executive officer, said in a phone interview from New Delhi. “India is going to leapfrog many other markets in mobile payments.”

Stockholm-based Truecaller, backed by Sequoia Capital, Atomico and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, has more than 150 million users in India. That’s a springboard for its new payment service, positioning it to compete with Paytm, which is backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Ant Financial, as well as Sequoia-backed MobiKwik.

To send payments through Truecaller, users have to create a unique Virtual Payment Address in the app. They can then send or receive money to or from any bank that employs Unified Payment Interface, a local digital-banking system.

Truecaller started as a mobile-number ID service but will grow into a platform and ecosystem on top of which services can be built, Mamedi said. It gained traction in India, where spam calls and messages are prevalent. It now has a user base of 250 million globally, with Egypt following India by number of users. The app attracting more people in the Middle East and North Africa and intends to explore other emerging markets.

“India is our passport to other markets. We want to learn from India and take these lessons to other emerging markets,” Mamedi said.

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