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BharatPe banks on cricket for next growth phase

The fintech retail payment app has signed up 11 cricketers as brand ambassadors.

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NEW DELHI: From Bollywood to cricket. That’s the path fintech brand BharatPe is taking. Bharat Pe, which is positioned as the one stop shop for the payment as well as capital needs of India’s large retailer network, has signed up 11 top cricketers as its brand ambassadors. Among them figure: Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, and Suresh Raina. 

The 11 cricketers will be featuring in an ad  campaign which is being directed by a top Hindi film director. The purpose: build BharatPe’s brand identity, apart from explaining its unique features, positioning and thought process to merchants. The sportsmen have been banded under a group which has been called BharatPe XI. The ad campaign is set to be unfurled closer to the festival period and will encompass TV, radio, OOH, digital, as well as print media.

The company, which is heavily funded by top investors like Sequoia, Beenext, Insight Partners, Steadview Capital management, Ribbit Capital, Coatue and Amplo, had earlier roped in Bollywood A-lister Salman Khan for its launch campaign #AbDukandarJitega.

BharatPe group president Suhail Sameer, who got on board the fintech firm as recently as August 2020, points out that the Salman association helped the brand get noticed, and connect with the merchant community who were  loathe to use digital payment options.

“We decided to go ahead with cricket this year as it is one sport that brings Indians together, irrespective of their region, religion, or financial status,” he explains.

Read more news on BharatPe

Co-founded by Ashneer Grover and Shashvat Nakrani, BharatPe’s mission is to make financial inclusion a reality for Indian merchants, especially across tier 1, 2 and 3 cities. BharatPe, since its launch, has been empowering shop owners with a single zero MDR UPI based QR code which allows them to accept payments from any app  - like PayTm, PhonePe, Google Pay, BHIM and 150+ other UPI apps – at no cost to them. The cash goes directly into the retailer’s bank account and he or she can earn interest on it and even take loans if the need arises.

Sameer shares that the initial task for BharatPe was to create awareness amongst the merchant community and educate them about how digital payments work.  Says he: “We have invested time and effort to educate the merchants and built trust with them. We offered them the convenience of accepting digital payments, irrespective of the consumer’s preferred choice of digital payment.”

The Salman campaign helped the company on board merchants in tier-1 and tier-2 towns and cities. As of early 2020, it had managed to rope in close to three million retailers. Average transaction values which were Rs 500 earlier rose by 60-65 per cent in early 2020.


SAMEER THINKS BOLLYWOOD
AND CRICKET ACT AS UNIFIERS

Covid2019 and the lockdown hit BharatPe hard, with transactions dipping in the first few weeks. But with the country unlocking, these have been picking up pace. Even merchant signups have ballooned to five million, and the target is to take that number to six million by end this fiscal. BharatPe is present in 35 cities and processes five crore plus monthly UPI transactions.

“In September, we are already at 50 per cent above the pre-Covid2019 levels in the value of the transactions we process (at $4 billion annually). We aim to close the year at a run rate of $5 billion in annual total payment value,” reveals Sameer.

Currently 15-20 per cent of the total transactions come from tier-2 areas and the next wave of growth will come from tier-2 and 3 markets, Sameer reveals Covid2019, which accelerated digitisation in the country has benefited BharatPe, like many other digital first brands, as consumers are choosing to go in for contactless transaction with the pandemic still raging.

The company is on an expansion spree even on the lending side – an activity which was kickstarted a year ago. So far, it has disbursed loans in excess of Rs 250 crore, despite the Covid2019 related slowdown. It has set a target  to disburse around Rs 700 crore in the next six months. “We did consciously slow down on our lending during the lockdown months, but have scaled well since July 2020,” highlights Sameer. “We are confident we will surpass Rs. 700 crore for the rest of the year, and are internally gearing for higher numbers.”

He is also sanguine that the cricketer-led advertising campaign will redefine how fintech marketing can be done. In the process, it will help BharatPe get closer to its goals.

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