New Delhi: Chinese smartphone companies trying to carve a niche in India’s fintech space have had a tough time, possibly on account of poor consumer sentiment following India-China border tensions.
Xiaomi, Oppo and Realme launched their fintech apps Mi Pay and Mi Credit, Oppo Kash and Realme PaySa, respectively at the start of 2020 have so far seen fewer than 1 million downloads each on Google Play Store against their user base of 20-100 million.
Even in terms of transactions, they have barely made a dent. Mi Pay and Realme PaySa recorded 480,000 and 10,000 monthly transactions, respectively, throughout 2020, with minimal month-on-month growth, according to data on the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) portal. Comparatively, market leaders PhonePe recorded 902.3 million and Google Pay 854.49 million transactions in December alone.
Even after digital adoption accelerated during the pandemic, other offerings from these Chinese companies such as quick loans, insurance and mutual fund investments failed to gather steam, fintech analysts said.
They said the reason is mainly because of the backlash against Chinese companies due to Sino-Indian border tensions for several months.
“Brands tried to diversify in the financial services segment to monetise their existing user base via these services and potential ad revenues,” said Navkendar Singh, research director at IDC India. “But we didn’t see any marketing from them after the launch, probably because they kept a low profile on account of public sentiments against Chinese companies.”
Additionally, he said, brand loyalty among Chinese smartphone users is rare so a person who switches between brands in a year or two would rather have a Paytm or Google Pay account.
Faisal Kawoosa, founder of research firm techARC, said lending activity across third-party apps had declined in 2020 as people’s credit scores had fallen in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“This could be the reason that smartphone brands could not grow their loans/investment portfolio,” he said.
The companies are in no hurry and are working on their plans to capture the need-gaps that are untapped in the fintech segment, said Zafar Imam, CEO of Finshell, the company that powers Oppo Kash and Realme PaySa.
“Though the pandemic has unlocked several market opportunities, as a responsible brand, we believe that any consumer-facing development should not be rushed through without due diligence,” he said.
Xiaomi did not reply to ET’s query.
Samsung Pay’s UPI payments almost doubled to 1.61 million transactions between April and December 2020, data showed. “The sharp rise in Samsung Pay transactions can be attributed to our consumers preferring contactless payments during the pandemic,” said Sanjay Razdan, senior director, mobile business, Samsung India. “Samsung Pay also registered a healthy growth in payments done through credit and debit cards as well as in bill payments.”