Chillr now belongs to Swedish firm Truecaller following acquisition

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  • Truecaller acquire Chillr for undisclosed fee
  • New focus on mobile payments and associated financial services

Cross-border payments service Chillr has been acquired by the Swedish call-screening app firm Truecaller for an undisclosed sum.

Truecaller had already moved into the money transfers business last year when it launched its UPI-based payments facility Truecaller Pay. With Chillr now in the Truecaller fold, the Sweden-headquartered company now intends to become a fully-fledged mobile and financial services platform.

India, where Chillr is headquartered, also happens to be Truecaller’s biggest user market. And now it plans to add a raft of financial services (loans, micro-insurance, financing and more) to its existing repertoire of offerings, which include peer-to-peer payments courtesy of a partnership with ICICI Bank.

Commenting on the new development, Chillr’s founder and CEO Sony Joy said: “The aim is to go deeper into mobile payments and other associated financial services. We have decided not to charge anything from the users for basic services and are determined to make the process as simple as paying directly through the messaging tab. This will take us beyond just handling messages and calls.”

Joy will now take up his new role as Vice President of Truecaller Pay. The acquisition absorbs all 45 of Chillr’s current employees into Truecaller, bringing the latter’s total staff head count to 110. In time, Chillr is expected to dilute its brand identity and migrate its current customer base to the Swedish platform.

Truecaller’s push into the Indian market arises at a point when WhatsApp is similarly eyeing opportunities there. The latter has a head start, claiming bragging rights over an unrivalled 200 million active users on the sub-continent. But Truecaller now has 100 million active daily users, a figure that’s hardly to be scoffed at, and it has 150 million registered users in India.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Truecaller co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Nami Zarringhalam said: “We’ve acquired a company that is known for innovation and leading this space in terms of building a fantastic product.”

He explained that Truecaller had originally met with the Chillr team to explore means of building out an ecosystem of third-party services, but rapidly began to see that there was real potential for a more formal joining together. There were, said Zarringhalam, real synergies between the two companies in customer care and user experience, which emerged early in their discussions.

Banking is fast developing in India, with many people there holding more than one account, so the challenge customers face today is less to do with getting banked and more to do with gaining access to desired services. By obtaining customer permission, Truecaller and Chillr could potentially share their data with financial services firms to grant these users access to services they would otherwise have no means of accessing.

As Joy put it: “Most citizens have a bank account (in each household); now being underserved is more to do with access to other services.”

To date, Truecaller has raised more than $90m from investors. Reports in TechCrunch in 2015 that it was in talks to raise an additional $100m at a valuation of approximately $1bn ultimately came to nothing. But the new move into the Indian payments and financial services market with Chillr on board is likely to see its fortunes rise much, much further.

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