Great Companies: Well, to being with, there are a lot of similar wallet apps out there like PayTm, Google Pay to name a few. What makes Niki.ai distinctive from the rest of your competitors?
Sachin Jaiswal: The existing alternatives for online transactions have complex user interfaces that first-generation internet users find very hard to navigate. Niki.ai solves this problem by empowering users with a multilingual conversational interface that makes online transactions extremely convenient. A virtual agent built for the next billion users of Bharat, Niki handholds first-time internet users from Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns for online transactions. Users can simply talk to Niki in their own language, using just their voice while it assists them through every step of the payment process. It is also designed to overcome the trust deficit that surrounds online transactions, ensuring that users never get stuck online and providing insurance on all payments made on its voice and vernacular platform. Another differentiator is the fact that it is completely driven by AI(Artificial Intelligence) and its algorithms have been designed to understand even the minute nuances of different languages.
Great Companies: Your Niki bot or your virtual agent is not like typical bots and is actually fun and simple to use, how did you come up with the idea of making it the way it is?
Sachin Jaiswal :The goal has been to simplify online payments for the next billion internet users emerging from Indians living in tier 2 and tier 3 cities who are yet to transact online. Inspired to fill this huge gap and enable the Non-English speaking population of Bharat, we wanted to build a product where one could take care of all the important payments and bookings over simple conversations, in a language that they are comfortable with. While doing so, we realised that these first time internet users have leap-frogged the technology revolution to use internet directly on their smart-phones. In order to make technology accessible to them and for them to move beyond entertainment apps to things like digital transactions, they needed excessive hand-holding and assurance.Thus, Niki was built for Bharat, to cater to these specific requirements. Niki assists the user right from discovery, to initiation till the task is finally completed and also provides insurance on all online transactions, removing all inhibitions that come in the way of making Indians transact online.
Great Companies: Your app seems to have a wide range of services and is certainly not just another wallet app. Can you name a few unique services and offers you give to your users?
Sachin Jaiswal: Voice and vernacular support: With multilingual support, Niki is the first app to make online transactions possible for the next billion users. Niki’s Hindi voice feature gives power to over millions of Hindi, Bengali and Tamil speaking Indians, to use technology in their first language. In other words, users can talk to Niki in their own language while it assists them through every step of the payment process, helping the next billion users become self-reliant for online transactions.
Social Payments: This exclusive feature on Niki helps new internet users send payment links to their social contacts or nearby merchants/Niki partners to complete the online transaction while they can pay in cash.
Insurance Card: To counter the trust deficit surrounding online payments, Niki provides users with an Insurance card for their online payments which assures them 100% fulfilment guarantee. It gives them a contact to reach out to in case they get stuck anywhere during the payment process or after their money is deducted.
Great Companies: What are the benefits of being an Elite User of Niki.ai and how do you become one?
Sachin Jaiswal: Benefits: Pay Later: Niki Elite users can transact for a service whenever required, and pay for it later.
Higher credit redemption limit: For Elite users, Niki credits are redeemed automatically for 50% of the transaction amount while making a payment, while for other users it is 25%.
Exclusive offers: We introduce amazing deals every now and then, which are exclusively offered to Niki Elite users.
Becoming an Elite Member:
Niki automatically chooses a user to join the 10,000+ strong Elite Club, by intelligently observing their behaviour. Becoming friends with someone doesn't take any special effort, it happens over simple conversations. The same applies here.
Great Companies: What was the idea behind creating Niki.ai and when did it begin?
Sachin Jaiswal: As technology revolutionised the way consumers shop for products and services during the last decade, with Niki, the goal has always been to build a product for Bharat to simplify digital transactions for the next billion internet users emerging from tier 2 and tier 3 cities, who are yet to transact online. Niki was thus designed as a virtual agent for the new internet users who can avail online services just by talking, keeping the experience similar to the offline world, where every service is availed through conversations. Users can talk to Niki in their own language while it assists them through every step of the payment process, helping them become self-reliant for online transactions.
All the founders, Keshav Prawasi, Shishir Modi, Nitin Babel and I are batchmates from IIT-Kgp. Once we had the idea, we decided to move out of our jobs in March 2015 to co-found Niki.ai. In the early days, we rented a small space in Udaipur where we worked on NLP technology and our MVP. Within three months, we managed to secure seed funding and move to Bangalore. It was officially registered on June 4, 2015, and launched to the public a month later at YourStory’s TechSparks, being one of the Tech30 companies.
Niki.ai received seed funding in the same year from Ronnie Screwwala’s Unilazer ventures. Also backed by Mr. Ratan Tata and SAP.iO among other investors, the company continues to resolve the pain-points of Bharat’s next billion internet users and as of today, boasts of 4.5mn+ users and a massive 300x GMV, contributed by Hindi users after adding Hindi language capabilities in October 2018.
Great Companies: What does the future look like for Niki.ai?
Sachin Jaiswal: Our focus lies on building a one-stop digital solution for all of Bharat and making technology accessible to all despite their age, gender, social or ethnic background. With our in-house, patented NLP and text recognition accuracy of 92%, we already have an edge in the space and are currently enabling more than 4.5 million users spread across 12000+ locations. We’re working on removing language barriers and enhancing ease of use to bring the next billion users online to make India truly digital.