Instant messaging platform Hike Ltd has launched India’s first in-app payment wallet, as it seeks to gain an early-mover advantage over rival WhatsApp.
The wallet will enable bank-to-bank money transfer via the government-backed unified payments interface (UPI) platform. It will also allow those who don’t actively use a bank account to send and receive money from their friends, Hike said on Tuesday.
“With more than 100 million registered users currently on Hike Messenger, this launch makes Hike the largest UPI-based platform in India overnight,” said founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal.
Hike, founded in 2012 by Mittal, follows the lead of China’s WeChat, another messaging app and WhatsApp rival. WeChat parent Tencent Holdings Ltd had, in August last year, invested in Hike as part of a $175-million funding round.
WhatsApp, owned by Facebook Inc, had been preparing to enter the digital payment sector in India, its first such offering globally, and had advertised to hire a digital transactions lead in the country. WhatsApp has about 200 million users in India, a sixth of its user base globally.
Hike and WhatsApp are seeking to benefit from a rise in digital transactions in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shock ban of certain high-value bank notes in November last year. The note ban also gave a push to the UPI, which was launched by the National Payments Corporation of India in August last year to facilitate digital payments.
Meanwhile, Hike also unveiled a redesigned version of its app, called Hike 5.0, which comes with the wallet feature, a revamped camera and enhanced security features. The company is partnering with Yes Bank to launch the wallet.
With Hike 5.0, users can recharge their phones and pay postpaid bill from within the Hike platform. Additionally, Hike is introducing Blue Packets, which are personalised digital envelopes that can be used to send money to friends as gifts—the money will be transferred to the user's Hike wallet.
“With our wallet, we are looking beyond transactions. We believe money can be the latest form of expression,” Mittal said on the sidelines of an event in Delhi.
Mittal said some of the new wallet features were inspired by Chinese investor Tencent. “Over the last six months, we’ve been working to bring a brand new experience to our users,” he said. “Hike 5.0 is our most ambitious step in that direction till date.”