Away from the limelight of urban cities, where an increasingly growing number of firms are fighting for a piece of India’s digital payments mart, a south Korean startup’s app is quietly helping millions of Indians pay digitally and enjoy many financial services for the first moment.
The app, named
True Balance, began its life as an equipment to help users easily find their mobile balance, or topping up pre-pay mobile credit. But in its four-year travel, its ambition has significantly grown beyond that. Today, it serves as a digital wallet app that helps users pay their mobile and electricity bills, and it also lets users pay later.
One thing that has not changed for the parent company of True Balance, BalanceHero, which employs less than 200 people, is its consumer focus. It is strictly catering to people in tier-two and tier-three markets — often dubbed as India 2 and India 3 — who have relatively limited access to the internet, and lower financial energy. And it remains operational just in India.
Even as India is already the second largest internet mart with more than 500 million users, more than half of its population remains offline. In recent years, the nation has become a battleground for Silicon Valley giants and Chinese firms that are increasingly trying to prevail existing users and bring the rest of the population online.
And like many other companies, BalanceHero’s wager on India is beginning to pay off. The startup told TechCrunch today that it has clocked $100 million in GMV sales and has amassed about 60 million registered users. Yongsung Yoo, a spokesperson for the startup, added that BalanceHero, which has raised $42 million to date, is also nearing profitability.
The South Korean tight’s playbook is dissimilar from many other players that are racing to bay a slice of India’s burgeoning digital payments mart. True Balance competes with the likes of Paytm, MobiKwik, Google, Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart, though its competitors are still largely catering to the urban parts of India.
In the last two years, many firms have begun to explore smaller cities and towns, but their services are still too out-of-the-world for local residents. Raising awareness about digital services is a gigantic contest in such markets, Yoo said, so the startup is relying on existing users to help others make their first transactions and in paying bills.
Yoo said the startup rewards these “digital agents” with cash back and other benefits. For these digital agents, many of whom do not have a day job, True Balance has emerged as a side project to make more cash.
Later this year, Yoo said the startup, which recently also added help for UPI in its service, will open an e-commerce store on its app and also offer insurance to users. To speed its growth and expansion, True Balance is in the final levels of raising between $50 million to $70 million in a brand-new circular that it expects to close in July this year, Yoo said.