By Anusha Ashwin
Steering steadily with 18 years of experience as an enabler for electronic payments, CyberPlat Electronic Payment System has made a pioneering inroad in the global fin-tech industry. CyberPlat is best defined as the first Russian electronic payment system. In an exclusive interaction with Voice&Data, Alok Jha, Managing Director of CyberPlat India, reveals how CyberPlat has grown to become a formidable player in the payment industry in India. Jha has over two decades of experience across different industry verticals including pharma, furniture, advertising, loyalty, e-commerce, payments and apparels. Apart from leading CyberPlat, Jha is a mentor to several startups and is also an angel investor with a deep understanding of consumer and service businesses. He has also invested in a few startups in his personal capacity. Excerpts from the interaction:
Voice&Data: CyberPlat got into the payment system much before most current top players in the segment. Could you explain its origin and how it has grown till date?
Alok Jha: CyberPlat is historically the first Russian electronic payment system. This integrated multibank internet payment system was introduced in 1997, within the e-commerce department of Platina Bank, with an aim to provide IT-support for effecting cashless transactions in all financial services of e-commerce sector from micro payments to interbank transactions. The first online payment was effected on March 18, 1998 for the Garant-Park Company in Moscow and the first payment to a cellular communication operator, Beeline, was done on August 12, 1998. In 2000, CyberPlat was incorporated as a separate open joint stock company. By the end of 2015, the company’s system was processing payments made in favor of more than 4,700 service providers including mobile and stationary communication companies, cable TV and wire-based and mobile Internet providers, security alarm systems, utility and power supply companies virtually in all regions of the Russian Federation.
CyberPlat has been in operation for 18 years and is the largest, most reliable and well-adjusted electronic payment system in Russia and CIS countries along with Germany, Austria and India. Due to constant upgrading of its technological platform, CyberPlat payment system is currently capable of processing more than 1400 financial transactions per second.
Voice&Data: When did CyberPlat foray into India and how does it cater to the Indian electronic payment industry?
Alok Jha: CyberPlat India was established in 2009 in Mumbai. India was experiencing and enjoying the growth of internet and the upsurge in its users, during that period which made it the right market for us to enter and service potential clients. However, building the organization ground up and staying profitable was difficult because there were already established players in the market and we had the task of creating our space in an established market where we were the last entrants. But, this did not deter us and we focused on offering the right products to our clients at the best price. We remained consistent with our core business proposition and grew business by building strong, trust-worthy relationships.
Voice&Data: How is India’s e-payment industry different from other countries and what are some of the significant advantages of doing business in India?
Alok Jha: Indian Payment industry is definitely different from others in following ways:
- It is more robust and diversified;
- It is in the golden phase of digitization of services;
- It is led by RBI and NPCI and hence the focus is stronger;
- It is a right combination of step-by-step experimentation, commencement and deregulation;
- It is giving scope to a lot of innovation;
- Innovative products like UPI, IMPS, Aadhaar-based payments are so unique and are helping to boost the industry; and
- In India fin-tech companies, banks and regulators all work very closely resulting in strategic ideas and plans.
Voice&Data: What are CyberPlat’s products and services for the Indian market? How far has the company penetrated rural India?
Alok Jha: We started with offering Mobile Top Ups in our initial years and gradually added other products. Today, we offer Mobile top-up, DTH Top-Up, recharges, insurance premium payment facility, domestic money transfer, utility bill payments and many other e-payment and cash payment facilities to our customer. We have a strong network of over 300+ partners and reach out to over 500,000 touch points in the B2B and B2C space covering retail networks, online websites, mobile-based businesses, self-service kiosks, POS-terminals, cash desks, amongst others, both in rural and urban India.
CyberPlat has a strong presence and foothold in the rural markets and we provide undivided concentration towards this segment because there is immense potential for growth there. Almost every third person has a mobile phone and recharges in smaller amounts regularly. This has been achieved through our partners enabling these services in rural India. Additionally, CyberPlat works very closely with e-governance companies along with companies who focus on rural enablement. This helps us get a strong foothold in rural India – a sector for which we have a vision to strengthen through our products and services.
Voice&Data: What is CyberPlat’s USP? How is the company different from other players in the market?
Alok Jha: CyberPlat offers a secure and reliable platform with 2048-bit electronic digital signature encryption facility, robust technology, redundant systems to ensure high uptime, disaster management services among other facilities making them the preferred partners for top telecom providers, DTH providers, utility service providers etc., We are a technology-oriented company offering a wide range of products and services to choose from, for our partners. We excel in our services and have strong, trustworthy relationships with our partners. Also, we are the only ones who serve the business requirements in the B2B space.
Voice&Data: The company is developing a high capacity payment industry. What does this really mean?
Alok Jha: We are a part of the robust payment industry and are growing exponentially with the others. The payment industry in India is rapidly changing and with initiatives like UPI, IMPS, Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar we will soon experience cashless transactions. We shall shortly be using some of these options to create last mile convergence of services.
Voice&Data: CyberPlat assures of 100% mobile communication coverage? What is this model of work?
Alok Jha: CyberPlat’s mobile-based white label solution provides a ready-made, android-based app for all top-up/bill payment services. The app can be customized at the client’s request, allowing them to customise the app with their brand name/logo to leverage better market value. Distributors who are already managing or operating a network of retail outlets can easily deploy the top-up/bill payment services without investing in expensive IT resources.
Voice&Data: What are the long-term plans for India?
Alok Jha: We have stayed profitable for four consecutive years in a row. CyberPlat is growing at 100 % year-on-year. We will soon open our second office in India in New Delhi and expand our team strength. We will also be introducing new innovative products and services for the banking and telecom verticals this year, along with adding new partners in the multi-category businesses to increase our footprints. We believe in being the growth partners of our clients and keep introducing new products to meet their requirements. We intend to step up our customized solutions to befit their business model. The long-term plan would certainly mean inorganic growth. CyberPlat is looking at the market with a magnifying lens. We are sure to make strategic acquisitions in the coming years.