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Powering up payments on the go

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on December 30, 2014 Published on December 29, 2014

Pavan Kachibhatla, CEO, Skilworth Technologies

Skilworth Technologies’ Bijlipay provides end-to-end payments solution

As with most entrepreneurs, Pavan Kachibhatla too seized an opportunity that came his way and now hopes to make a mark in the payments business.

An alumnus of the Institute of Hotel Management in Chennai, Pavan started off in the hospitality business, moved to sports management and founded Skilworth Technologies in 2007, doing stuff primarily on the Internet connected with sports.

He was involved with the first edition of the IPL as a consultant to one of the teams and to the persons who had web rights for the BCCI. “One thing led to another. The company I created, Skilworth, ended up being a consultancy of sorts,” says Pavan. He was helping companies entering India with their strategy, finding joint venture partners and helping the business grow.

Triggering point

He recalls it was during a visit to the UK, to attend a gaming conference, when he met a few people from the payments industry, one of whom was keen on entering India. Pavan took this person, an executive of Wirecard AG of Germany, one of the largest independent players in the electronic payments space, to meet some professionals in India.

And, he thought instead of introducing him to another company, why not do it himself. He mentioned it to the Wirecard executive, who was excited by the prospect. “I said enough of doing this consulting stuff. Let us create something of value, create our own brand and create a business.”

That was in 2011. That was how Bijlipay, an end-to-end payments services brand under Skilworth, was born. Bijlipay is into mobile Point of Sale systems, but will get into e-commerce in early 2015 and then into pre-paid card issuing services later. The venture itself took shape in 2012 and went live in 2014; the time being taken to get clearances, certification, integration and the like.

Says 41-year-old Pavan, “Wirecard provides the technology. We use that technology, package it and provide it to banks and then to our customers, the merchants.” The hardware – the devices on which the cards are swiped to complete a transaction – is from a UK-based company.

According to Pavan, Bijlipay has tied up with the Chennai headquartered call taxi service Fast Track, which has a large presence in the South. Fast Track has about 12,000 cabs attached to it and Bijlipay will provide the mPoS to these cabs. The drivers will have a basic Android phone and through Bluetooth technology they can connect the mPoS device and accept card payments from customers availing themselves of their services. Bijlipay is also concentrating on the smaller merchant establishments for the mPoS business.

Bijlipay gets its revenues from the bank that runs the merchant’s terminal. It is a volume game, says Pavan. Right now, Bijlipay has sold or rented out the devices to 1,500 establishments, including 1,000 to Fast Track, and wants to quickly increase it to 50,000. It raised $12 million from Singapore-based investors, which will help it in scaling up.

Smartphone penetration

Pavan is confident that Bijlipay will break even as targeted in 18 months. The biggest challenge that he faces is the smartphone penetration. Since Bijlipay’s main customers are the smaller merchant establishments and traders, for them a smartphone with a data plan is still a large investment. For example, a small street-corner provisions shop owner may find the mPoS useful for his business, but for him to spend at least ₹3,500 on a basic Android smartphone with a mobile connection and data plan is quite a large investment.

“You have to be at it. Perseverance is the only thing that is going to pay in this business,” signs off Pavan.

Published on December 29, 2014
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