Thoughts on Paytm and prepaid wallets

I have been using Paytm for couple of years now. Mostly to recharge my prepaid mobile balance and have since then embraced all new features that it added - be it bus booking service, or adding cash to wallet.

When it introduced its marketplace, I was thrilled and kept checking for ‘good’ deals on the site, only to be disappointed each and every time. Over the period of time, I have realized that Paytm doesn’t really want to promote its marketplace but wants to promote its prepaid wallet service through its marketplace. Notice how all free coupons on every recharge made from the site has free paytm credits.

Recenty, I wanted to buy MI 10k mAh power back and had checked out every online store. The power backup was only available on Paytm marketplace. I was eager to buy, however it was priced higher than it was listed on any other site. Paytm was even offering huge discount in the form of cash back. Calculating the cash back, the power back up would have costed me same as its listed price on other sites, however, I would have had to pay extra and and the cash back would be added as Paytm Credits, thereby locking my money with them.

Honestly I have always hated prepaid wallets. With our increasing dependence on online services, just imagine the number of prepaid wallets one would have to keep, just to have a seamless transaction. And if I were to credit money into every wallet, I will lose count of the services and thus my money. That said, when I credit money into these wallets, there’s no saying how frequently I will use these wallets. I absolutely hate the fact that these services will eat interest on money which I would otherwise get from bank. EDIT: Annkur and Amit have pointed out that RBI regulations don’t allow companies to earn interest on prepaid wallet cash. Prepaid wallets make sense when you use these services very often - something like Mumbai local smart cards. Here the government is smarter than I thought, it actually gives me 5% interest every time I credit money into my smart card. Really really smart move. Where as prepaid wallets from most online services do not provide me enough incentive to keep using them.

Prepaid wallets is good way to lock in users, however, for a user it’s not really a smart move.

Startup Saturday: 13/9/2014

Yesterday I attended Startup Saturday after a long time. I actively participated in organizing these events for some time but the enthusiasm waned off, probably due to lack of time or all the gyaan was getting too much digest. The reason I attended this month’s event was because the theme of entire event was around education and I wanted to check out what people are doing in the field. 

Anyhow, coming back to the point: I didn’t see any out of the box offering from any of the players. All that everyone is doing is repackaging content and trying to sell it to students. Everyone understands that there’s massive growth in education sector and want to ride on it, yet not many are doing something that would eventually benefit the sole beneficiary - the student.

One gentleman rightly pointed out that no one in India studies to learn but just to get their degrees. Yet, the solution he had to offered also targeted those students who don’t want to learn but rather score marks with last minute studies.

Overall I feel that there’s a lot to be done in EdTech sector, just that the current lot of entrepreneurs need to figure out on how to focus on learning outcome rather than on scoring marks. 

Education has perception issues

I have been thinking a lot during this weekend on why education system in India is the way it is. At some point, I thought I got an answer in: education should be affordable to everyone irrespective of their status quo. But that is already happening in India. The Government of India already provides free primary education in all states and yet many people either don’t want to attend schools or don’t want to send their kids to study.

After discussing it with couple of people and reading hundreds of smart answers on Quora - it’s clear that the problem that education faces is perception.

For years, education has been a shortcut to get out of poverty quickly and and with guarantee, helping the middle class population to rise. This is where the perception that education will raise your income and your social status in return, comes from.

This worked very well for our parents, while it didn’t change a thing for others. For whom it didn’t change anything, hand down the same learnings to their kids. While our parents handed down the same to use, that go to school then college and earn lots of money. Be secure.

This needs to change. The perception that education is the ticket to make lots of money. Unless it changes, it will be very difficult for India as a country to rise.

And how would this work? The first step is to get everyone to get enrolled in school. India being a cost sensitive country (no doubt it is), education on primary level at least needs to be free or cheap that everyone can afford. Our government is already doing the first step. 

Once everyone at least gets basic level of education, education will no longer be a ticket to getting out of poverty and start becoming about learning. Remember, we are at least 40-60 years behind the countries in the west. 

The only problem is that it will take a lot of time, at least 5-6 generations, to come true and as a country where horrific events take place everyday, that’s too long before the country burns itself. 

Disclaimer: I work for, where we help institutes to focus on learning outcome. 

While browsing Facebook, I came across this post getting ridiculed. The image shows Myntra delivering on Cycles. While most European countries are promoting the usage of cycles, it’s only in India that people would ridicule this. 

The government in Amsterdam has made parking so expensive that people mostly use cycles. It has added benefits:

  1. You get healthy
  2. Saves a tons of money
  3. Reduces the pollution

I find it a bit disheartening that young Indians not only aren’t conscious of all these benefits but would ridicule others. 

Link to the pictures posted on FB

Why Has Kalaari Invested Rs 30 Crore in Swipe Telecom?

Kalaari Capital, an early stage investment firm, has invested Rs 30 crore in an Indian tablet maker Swipe Telecom. The Pune based company plans to utilize the funds raised in expanding sales in the Indian market and invest in research and development.

Swipe lists a total of 23 devices, a combination of tablets and phablets, all based on Google’s Android operating system. According to a report by the Economic Times, it also plans to introduce tablets on Microsoft’s Windows Platform, which is quite ambitious.

Swipe’s tablets are priced between Rs 3,999 to Rs 14,999. Essentially, these are low end tablets, which translates to little margin for the company. Low end tablets are already infamous in the country. When companies like Micromax introduced low end tablets, a lot of people bought them. It turned out to be an horrendous experience because of the cheap components used in them. The next wave of tablet buyers, are either going to upgrade their tablets or won’t be buying it at all. In any case, low end tablets does not seem to be an appealing market to address.

This is one of the reason why Micromax has introduced its Turbo series. It’s trying to move away from low end market where it dominated, to provide a better experience to its users and to gain more margin.

Either Swipe Telecom is soon going to pull a rabbit out of hat or it has already done so by managing raise the fund.