Well, this was something that we should have seen coming. Messenger application Hike has partnered with Airtel Payments Bank to power its wallet service it launched in June. Hike Messenger is run by Kavin Mittal, the son of Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal. So as the company said in its press release, it “creates great business synergy between the two partners.” Oh lest we forget, Hike is also a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Softbank.
Hike had partnered with YES Bank at the time to launch the wallet service and it looks like the partnership is dissolved.
That said, with this partnership, Airtel Payments Bank will get access Hike’s 100 million users and the messenger’s users will have access to Airtel Payments Bank’s product line including merchant and utility payments and KYC infrastructure. The KYC infrastructure should certainly be handy with the Reserve Bank of India’s new guidelines for wallets.
The guidelines state that any new wallets opened will have 12 months to upgrade to full KYC norms. Meanwhile, for existing wallets, companies need to ensure that they will have full KYC by the end of the December 31. Following which, these wallets will cease to exist. Note it is unclear how many Hike Wallet users are customers of Airtel and if it will be possible to share the same KYC information. If the wallet’s users are on other telecom networks, it would be difficult for them to share KYC information.
Hike Wallet has not given information on the number of users it has but said that 5 million transactions in November 2017, growing over 30% month-on-month. Pathik Shah, VP, Product at Hike Messenger said that most of the transactions have been for mobile recharges and P2P money transfers.
The wallet is integrated with Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and allows users to perform bank-to-bank transfers. The transfer can be carried out even if the recipient isn’t on Hike Messenger. In September, Airtel Payments Bank also went live with its UPI integration. It is unclear if Airtel Payments Bank will also be powering the UPI payments as well now. This would probably need the creation of a VPA from Airtel.