Niki’s AI assistant permits new net customers to access on-line services and virtual payments in regional languages
Niki is the use of voice instructions for bill payments, ticket bookings, recharges and other provider needs
With guide for Hindi, Bengali and Tamil, it’s seeking to add Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi quickly
On the manner again home, an autorickshaw motive force puzzled, “Do you use Paytm? Can you please recharge my phone?”
Facing hassle in including cash to his virtual pockets, he had to show to strangers to invite for help. This isn't always an uncommon scene in India, where no matter the penetration of cell net and digital transactions, many first-time internet customers want assistance in completing duties along with paying bills or recharging telephones through on-line structures. This adds a layer of local dealers and younger circle of relatives participants who provide assistance and troubleshoot troubles.
But generation can enhance this several times over. With immediate resolutions to fintech queries from novice users, Bengaluru-based conversational AI assistant Niki is looking to do just that. The startup objectives to update hyperlocal marketers or the center-layer of human fintech assistants with its voice assistant.
Founded in 2015 by using Shishir Modi, Sachin Jaiswal, Keshav Prawasi, and Nitin Babel, Niki allows clients to pay utility payments, recharge their pay as you go mobile money owed, e-book tickets for journey and lodging, avail nearby deals and extra, without a doubt via voice instructions.
Backed through Ratan Tata, Niki (which commenced lifestyles as Niki.AI) is compatible with three Indian languages — Hindi, Bengali, Tamil — besides English. This makes it a tremendous companion for folks who are the usage of the net in regional or vernacular languages.
According to Jaiswal, voice is the pleasant way to approach such use-instances as even typing in nearby languages isn't always constantly simple thanks to the use of matras, bindis, and half of letters.
“With voice assist, new customers do no longer have to worry approximately user interface and might surely speak to the app as they would do with a local travel agent or a chum.”
But it’s not pretty much training purchasers to pay online — Niki is going one step past and also enables them whole these transactions on line and pay for them using cash. Currently best to be had in Bengaluru, Ajmer and Bikaner, coins on shipping (COD) operations are handled via Niki employees who go to the person’s home to pick up the coins.
While Jaiswal agreed that COD is heavy on operations, he brought, “If you're solving for an agent use-case, you need to build the user revel in in phrases of ways the patron needs it.”
He also referred to that even in product ecommerce, close to 60% to 70% orders are cash on shipping. For Niki, about 30% of the users are choosing the COD option.
Niki Joins India’s Frenetic Digital Services Market
Niki claims to have completed approximately 1 Mn transactions across Hindi, Bengali and Tamil. Out of Niki’s four.Five Mn user base, 80% users are said to be from Tier 2, Tier three and Tier four cities along with Jaipur, Gharsana, Surat, Aurangabad, Muzaffarnagar, Ludhiana, Patna, Indore, Sri Ganganagar, Faridabad, and Agra.
Online transaction use-instances inclusive of software invoice payments and travel ticket bookings have turn out to be a battleground for lots era majors including Alibaba-backed Paytm, Flipkart-owned PhonePe, and Google Pay. While each keeps to offer reductions and cashbacks to gather a larger market share, there's no clean winner.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led Paytm did see huge adoption initially, due to its first-mover benefit and the put up-demonetisation fintech wave. However, the employer become lately suffering to make income with losses leaping by way of 167% in FY19 as compared to ultimate 12 months.
Also, Paytm’s transactions quantity have been said to have fallen down in July 2019, while the numbers for Google Pay and PhonePe have been on the regular rise, with retail growth additionally happening simultaneously. Amazon has doubled down on Amazon Pay and is likewise expanding into retail bills with the UPI-based totally provider.
Other international generation agencies consisting of Uber and Facebook-owned WhatsApp have additionally shown interest in India’s $1 Tn really worth virtual bills opportunity. Even though maximum of these gamers do no longer have vernacular voice help like Niki, Amazon and Google each have developed voice assistants that are already included into many Indian customers’ smart devices.
Is Services Commerce The Next Big Thing?
So what units Niki apart? “Many virtual payment corporations are looking to combination offerings commerce of their atmosphere, but their solutions are restrained because charge agencies are adding new use-cases to growth client engagement and not solving the patron pain points in accessing those services.”
While Jaiswal may also have a factor there, Amazon has also recently entered the voice-primarily based payments space with flight/resort bookings and its very own virtual wallet, Amazon Pay. In addition to this, Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa also has Hindi language compatibility for Indian users.
Responding to this, Jaiswal stated it's miles a $a hundred Bn market and more than one gamers will try to take a chew out of this marketplace, however none of them have constructed competencies round what he calls ‘offerings trade’ or the provider shipping aspect which is mixed with digital bills. Thanks to its on-floor network, Niki is within the function to fulfil a number offerings that the alternative fintech giants might not be capable of suit yet.
“None of those organizations are focussed on services commerce and therefore, by just focussing in this trouble we are able to solve it a whole lot better. Even if we just seize like 20% of the market, it is going to be approximately $20 Bn sales possibility,” he introduced.
To aid its expansion and the ability user growth, it is looking to add seven extra languages including Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi inside the next one year. Operational in 18K pincodes, the organisation desires to in addition include 25K extra Tier 2, three and four places through March subsequent year.
Its growth efforts will be subsidized with the aid of its on-ground person acquisition method. Niki has partnered with neighborhood retailers to setup kiosks that help sell its provider trade offerings the various local populace. The agency has additionally partnered with influencer networks on apps together with TikTok thru which it is able to enlarge its reach beyond this community. According to Jaiswal, its cutting-edge cost of acquisition in step with person is round INR 23 and on common, a consumer spends close to INR 14.6K in six months on Niki or just over INR 2K in keeping with month.
Niki earns sales through commissions levied on traders inclusive of bus operators. For a bus price ticket booking, Niki charges eight% fee from merchants, even as the consumer avails the service on the equal price as they might do offline.
Niki claims to have eighty five% customer retention within the first month of sign-up which settles right down to forty eight%-50% over a six-month length. The agency is presently doing close to $forty four Mn in GMV. By financial 12 months 2020, Niki aims to reach a GMV run fee of $120Mn with a sales run rate of $20 Mn and a purchaser base of over 10 Mn with the aid of FY2020.
With eyes on taking pictures the massive marketplace of upcoming new net users in India, Niki is now running on growing the person spend per consumer by transferring past digital payments.
One of the brand new use-instances that the organization is exploring is social bills, where buddies or own family will pay at the consumer’s behalf. It is also searching at religious excursion bookings for locations which includes Vaishno Devi or Kedarnath. In addition to this, the business enterprise is presently piloting grocery retail, which might make it the first grocery shipping platform to rely on voice instructions. It also desires to add use-instances such as shipping of egovernance offerings together with passport, Aadhaar card and more.
Clearly, Niki is going all-in with its model of service transport combined with the convenience of use of voice-primarily based payments. Will it paintings in the end as increasingly more bills platforms consisting of Paytm, Amazon Pay, Google Pay and PhonePe resolve for the identical set of problems, sponsored via their deep pockets and better emblem cost?