Freecharge names Kunal Shah chairman, appoints Govind Rajan as CEO

FreeCharge was acquired by Snapdeal for $450 million in April 2015 as digital payments gained strategic importance for online retailers


Freecharge takes the approach of ensuring that its users spend as little time on the app as possible, and claims a 10-second payment time. Photo: Mint
Freecharge takes the approach of ensuring that its users spend as little time on the app as possible, and claims a 10-second payment time. Photo: Mint

Bengaluru: Freecharge, the payments arm of online marketplace Snapdeal run by Jasper Infotech Pvt Ltd, on Tuesday elevated its chief operating officer of Govind Rajan as chief executive officer and CEO Kunal Shah as chairman.

“Kunal has built a great tech team and an iconic brand. It is a privilege to take the baton from him. We are fortunate to have his guidance as the chairman and mentor-in-chief. I am very excited to carry forward our mission to build Freecharge as India’s digital payments operating system,” Rajan said in a statement.

Rajan has previously worked as chief marketing officer (B2C) at Bharti Airtel and as CEO for Airtel Money. He has also held various roles at Hindustan Unilever.

With e-commerce booming, payments have gained strategic importance for online retailers like Snapdeal and Flipkart.

Last year, Snapdeal acquired FreeCharge for $450 million in April, Flipkart acquired payments start-up FX Mart Pvt. Ltd, and Ola (run by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) launched its own wallet for use across e-commerce platforms.

It’s not just commerce platforms that operate wallets. Start-ups such as Mobikwik, Oxigen, PayU, Citrus Pay, and Novopay too have raised significant funding to help make digital payments easier.

Currently, the market leader in this space is Paytm (run by One97 Communications Ltd), followed by Freecharge. Three in every 10 smartphone users using their app, according to a February 2016 report by Nielsen.

According to the report, the most popular mobile payment apps are those that provide services over and above pure payment like mobile recharging, ability to book movie tickets, shopping and so on, while Freecharge takes the opposite approach of ensuring that its users spend as little time on the app as possible, and claims a 10-second payment time.

Freecharge launched FreeCharge Go, virtual pre-paid cards in partnership with MasterCard and Yes Bank in January, to compete with larger rival Paytm which also launched prepaid cards in partnership with ICICI Bank in December. The company said in a statement that over half a million Go cards were issued within 10 days of its launch.

FreeCharge has not applied for a payments bank licence but has partnered with FINO, which has one, for last-mile reach and access to new consumers.

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