Sameer Nigam, founder and CEO, PhonePe. (Photo: MInt)

PhonePe earmarks ₹800 crore marketing budget to take on competition


NEW DELHI: PhonePe will spend Rs800 crore in advertising and marketing to take on competition and penetrate deeper into the country, according to Sameer Nigam, the founder and chief executive of the Flipkart-owned UPI-based payments platform. It has signed up popular actor Alia Bhatt along with its existing brand ambassador Aamir Khan to create awareness and drive usage among consumers as well as small businesses especially in the smaller towns.

The digital payments category has brands such as Amazon, Google Pay and Paytm which also advertise. More recently, Facebook owned instant messaging service WhatsApp also got regulatory approval to roll out its payments platform in a phased manner.

“In terms of scale and impact, it is going to be our biggest and aggressive initiative on brand marketing and investment this year. We would be investing ₹800 crore on pure marketing which is also going to be our biggest spend so far. More than competition the opportunity to penetrate the digital payment further is very real right now. Our goal is to continue adding over 100 million users every year until we get to 500 million user base," said Nigam said.

The five-week brand campaign is centered on PhonePe’s new tagline ‘Karte Ja. Badhte Ja’ and reflects the role played by the company in India’s progress by catering to the varied aspirations and needs of its 20-crore users across the country. The campaign showcases fast transactions, convenient payment modes, simpler investment options, the Switch platform providing one-click access to over 100 apps and PhonePe’s wide acceptance at over 10 million offline shops. The campaign will be promoted across digital platforms, radio, print and cinema.

“Aamir and Alia have a wide appeal across the older generation to the millennials. They are both bold and inspiring and carry credibility in their real lives. It aligns with our goal is to inspire people to try new way of transaction. The focus is now on creating awareness for consumers, SMEs and creating opportunity for other digital businesses which are on our platform," added Nigam.

The PhonePe advertising is centered on creating awareness and promoting utility payments. The platform has also been leveraging cricket since last year as official broadcast sponsor of Indian Premier League (IPL). With 185 million registered users, PhonePe key users are from cities such as Delhi-NCR, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Mumbai. However, digital payment is growing from the bottom of the pyramid with over 50% of PhonePe growth coming from Tier II and III towns where distance and access to services is a problem.

Referring to WhatsApp coming into the fray, Nigam said, “We are not intimidated by WhatsApp size at all. With Google, Amazon, Paytm and even the government (BHIM) app entering the payment space, our growth has never slowed down. We will continue to grow. I feel the market is large enough for everyone to play."