Mumbai: Sequoia Capital India and Lightspeed Venture Partners have invested $3.5 million in Mumbai-based OneAssist Consumer Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which offers assistance services when wallets, handsets or passports get lost on overseas travels.
The year-old start-up, founded by Gagan Maini and Subrat Pani, launched its offerings last week.
While banks offer card blockage services and telecoms block subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in case a person travelling abroad loses a credit card or handset, OneAssist offers services like WalletAssist, under which a customer can call the company from anywhere in the world if she or he loses a wallet.
The company will block all the bank cards of the customer within 15 minutes, get lost card fraud cover seven days prior to the reporting of loss, free replacement of permanent account number (PAN) card and driving licence, and related services.
“We did anxiety mapping, including qualitative and quantitative research to understand people’s day-to-day worries. We found that as time is at premium, losing a phone or a wallet or a passport puts life out of gear for people,” said Maini.
The company has another service called MobileAssist which blocks the customer’s phone and SIM card from anywhere in the world in case of loss or theft. There will be an automated back-up of contacts, SMS, photos and videos as well as remote phone lock and wiping out of sensitive data.
“There are 20 million credit cards and 250 million debit cards being used in the country. Anyone who carries a smart phone and plastic is a potential client,” said Pani.
As the company deals with sensitive data including debit and credit cards, it has put stringent rules in place. Its call centres are paperless. It only takes 16 digits of credit and debit card numbers and no other details like the card verification code (CVC) numbers or passwords.
“We had been exploring and evaluating value-added services around cards (just like mobiles) for a long time,” said Bejul Somaia, managing director, Lightspeed Advisory Services India Pvt. Ltd, who compared this service to the state of health insurance 10 years ago. He added that for OneAssist to become a $60-70 million business in five to seven years, it needs approximately two million customers.
That Indians are not typically “do it yourself” kind of people could further lead to the adoption of such services. “Unlike other nations, people are unwilling to do things themselves here. Lack of infrastructure is one issue,” said Mohit Bhatnagar, managing director with Sequoia Capital India.
Experts say it remains to be seen whether people would pay for such services.
“It’s an interesting model. First, the fee model needs to be tested as customers may end up thinking why do I need it. However, there are lots of people who travel, carry plastic, there is certain audience who will love it. It’s like insurance. Scalability is yet to be seen,” said Kanwaljit Singh, senior managing director at Helion Venture Partners.