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FreeCharge to foray into lending and insurance: Can it compete with Paytm?


Soon after joining UPI league, Axis Bank-owned FreeCharge is looking to expand its offering. The decision seems to be an obvious path for an eight-year-old company, which was once flag bearer for all recharge and wallet companies during its initial days.

On the lines of Paytm, FreeCharge is planning to add more financial services including lending, saving and insurance. According to an ET report, the payments firm will leverage the services of its parent entity and launch these products within next four months.

The Gurugram-based firm now led by Sangram Singh has been able to achieve a significant growth in last six months. With over 45 million userbase, the Sequoia Capital-backed company has added 2.5 million more users and witnessed a 40 per cent jump in monthly active users.

The development comes at a time when payments space led by Paytm has been planning and adding such services on its platform. To operate as a full stack model in financial services, the deep-pocketed payments-cum-e-commerce platform has been able to dominate the market alone.

If FreeCharge joins the fintech club, it would be directly competing with Paytm. Other players in mobile wallet and payments space such as Flipkart promoted PhonePe and Mobikwik are not contemplating to foray into financial services anytime soon.

The company’s regaining of confidence and foray into financial services might be coming from UPI wave which could also help it to bounce back in peer to peer and retail payment segments.

The wallet business is gradually becoming redundant with the adoption of UPI. Since a large portion of UPI transaction is driven by peer to peer fund transfers, FreeCharge will indeed leverage the NPCI-owned payments platform to regain the lost marketshare.

Founded by Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon in 2010, FreeCharge was sold in 2015 to Snapdeal for approximately $400 million as cash and stock deal. Two years later, it was sold in a mere $60 million to Axis Bank, which proved a big loss for the SoftBank-backed e-commerce marketplace.

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