PhonePe: A Billion Dreams The startup continues to experiment and build many new user experiences and interfaces and create awareness about UPI

By S Shanthi

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For PhonePe, the challenge was and still is to build offerings for a billion Indians who have the means to transact but either don't know or don't understand digital payments and services such as insurance and financial services. In order to serve a billion Indians in an inclusive manner, the startup continues to experiment and build many new user experiences and interfaces and create awareness via innovative marketing formats.

PhonePe has more than 365+ Mn users today. The startup believes it has been able to achieve this number because of the reliability and speed of the transaction that it offers. "We still continue to plug away in trying to make transactions faster and to ensure that the failure rate is still lower and lower and lower. So, incremental improvements at scale actually are significantly underrated," says a spokesperson of the company.

Further, since 80 per cent of its consumers come from tier 2, 3 cities and beyond, there is always an effort to leverage tech to make the product simpler for those customers, who may be coming onto the platform for the first time. "The first thing such customers try is usually payments before they move on to high-value purchases or e-commerce. So, there is a responsibility that we are actually catching this wave of consumers on the internet very early and we need to be able to use technology like computer vision, augmented reality and more which are relevant to deliver breakthrough innovation that simplifies the user experience at scale. Imagine customers being able to intuitively pick up and add products to purchase to their basket, or imagine customers being able to simulate handing over or receiving money from others as they would do in the real world," the spokesperson adds.

The key technology differentiator for PhonePe, the company believes, is its ability to build platforms at a scale. Tech apart, PhonePe strongly believes that its culture is the secret sauce to its success. The flat organization structure, it claims, focuses on impact and performance over tenure and level. "Our people processes are built to emphasize this through a talent management and compensation system that rewards collaboration, sustainable solutions, and an ability to put the organization first. We take immense pride in the high-quality talent at PhonePe," he adds.

The way to achieve this is by leveraging pods, meaning formal structures where individuals with a diverse set of capabilities such as engineering, product management, design, business, etc come together to solve complex problems. This includes both horizontal (platform) pods as well as vertical (category) pods. Basically, pods act like a startup within a startup and every employee acts as an entrepreneur, owning and acting on opportunities end-to-end.

Lastly, the spokesperson shares some life lessons on building a fintech enterprise. "Avoid information asymmetry and embrace transparency. Empower your team by letting them make decisions with the confidence that success will propel them while in failure, you have their back."

S Shanthi

Senior Assistant Editor

Shanthi specializes in writing sector-specific trends, interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. 


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