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Citrus Pay Raises $2M From Sequoia Capital; Launches Citrus Checkout


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Digital payments service provider Citrus Pay has disclosed that it has raised $2 million Series A funding round from Sequoia Capital.

This is the same investment that we had reported in June 2012, however back then Mohit Bhatnagar, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital had declined to reveal the exact investment amount.

Bhatnagar informed that this $2 million investment is the first tranche with more such tranches expected in the future. However, he declined to comment on the number of tranches involved in this investment or the time period between these investment tranches. The company plans to use the funding raised to build new products and services, improve its technology and for hiring.

Citrus Checkout: Along with this investment, Citrus Pay had launched a payment gateway solution called Citrus Checkout, which allows users to make online payments across Citrus merchant websites, mobile sites and mobile apps.

The company allows users to sign up for a Citrus account and store their personal and payment information, which can later be used on various Citrus merchant sites for making payments, thereby hoping to simplify the checkout experience for consumers. Essentially, the company is trying to solve the issue of payment gateway failures, by acting as a middleware between the consumers and merchants.

How Does It Work? After signing up for an account and entering requisite information, users can just enter their Citrus account credentials on merchant payment gateways, following which it will auto populate the consumer’s personal and payment information and allow users to only enter the CVV number and the 3D secure password to make the purchase. Remember that RBI guidelines currently doesn’t allow websites to store the CVV number. This is quite similar to what Cleartrip offers with its Expressway initiative or Flipkart with its ‘Saved Cards‘ initiative.

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Another problem that we have typically faced is that if the payment fails at the 3D secure page, it redirects to the merchant homepage and users have to re-select the item for purchase. Speaking at a media briefing, Citrus founder Satyen V Kothari told that their solution instead redirects the consumer back to their payment page where they can choose any other payment option ot make the payment.

What’s interesting is that Kothari claimed that this solution is compatible with all major mobile platforms including iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone, thereby allowing merchants to offer a mobile optimized payment checkout experience to users. Citrus Pay competitor Paytm Payments also offers a similar customized payment platform, which supports platforms like websites, IVR voice, WAP/mobile web, mobile payment apps (on tablets, Android, Blackberry, iPhone), and SMS

In-App Payment Solution: Kothari mentioned that they also offer an in-app payment gateway solution, which third party app developers can integrate within their apps to allow consumer make payment through various payment options like Credit Cards, Debit Cards, NetBanking and COD (Cash On Delivery) to their users. However, its worth noting that users will still have to go through an additional “Verified by Visa” or “Mastercard Secure” security layer through this solution.

Note that both Apple and Google already offer in-app billing facility on iOS and Android respectively, but it currently accept only credit cards as a payment option and take 30% cut from the in-app transactions as transaction fees. While Kothari didn’t disclose the pricing of these payment solutions, he claimed that their pricing will be a flat fee which will be much lower than what Apple or Google offers.

Merchants & Partners: The company claims to have signed up more than 550 merchants in the past year, including Airtel, Sun DTH, Healthkart, and Beam Telecom among others and claims to be generating around 11,000 transactions per day.

It also claims to have more than 30 banks on board including ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, State Bank of India, Axis Bank, Union Bank of India, Yes Bank, Deutsche Bank, Citibank, Federal Bank, MasterCard and Visa.

Other Players: The e-payment space in India has independent companies such as EBS, CCAvenue and BillDesk but the majority of the transactions is still being managed by large private banks like HDFC, Citibank and ICICI.

Last June, Paytm had launched its own payment gateway solution Paytm Payments while Naspers had rolled out its payment gateway product, PayU in November 2011. Interestingly, Sequoia Capital had also invested $1 million in the online payments company Zaakpay in 2012.

Related:

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Note To RBI: Need A Level Playing Field In Online Billing In India
How India’s Banks Killed The Future Of Commerce – Hrush Bhatt, Cleartrip
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