Home / Companies / Start-ups /  Ola buys minority stake in ZipCash

Bangalore/New Delhi: India’s largest taxi hailing service Ola, run by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, together with co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal, has acquired a minority stake in ZipCash Card Services Pvt. Ltd, a company with a wallet licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), documents filed with the Registrar of Companies show.

ANI Technologies invested close to 3.2 crore for a 3.4% stake in June while Aggarwal bought a 2.56% stake by investing 1.2 crore in March.

Ola, which is looking to apply for its own wallet license, has held talks with ZipCash for a potential acquisition, according to two people familiar with the development.

However, acquisition of a company with a mobile wallet requires approval from the RBI and the two companies are yet to get one.

Meanwhile, Ola has taken charge of ZipCash’s board. Founder Vivek Saxena resigned from the board of the company in August, the official documents show. Saxena and Vivek Burman, another director and shareholder, were the majority shareholders in the company. Burman too quit the company’s board in July.

After the investment in June, two senior Ola executives — chief financial officer Mitesh Shah and head of Ola Money Rushil Goel — joined the board of ZipCard as additional directors.

According to one of the two persons mentioned above, Saxena and Burman have sold part of their stake in the company to Ola. Mint could not independently verify the details of the secondary stake sale.

Founded in 2007, Zipcash offers mobile vouchers, bill payments, mobile top-ups and Direct To Home (DTH) television recharge services and has partnerships with the likes of eBay and BookMyShow, among others.

Mumbai-based Zipcash has been struggling to expand. The company reported income from operations of 48.53 lakh in the year ended March 2014 as against 47.20 lakh in March 2013. The loss widened to 52.48 lakh in March 2014 from 36.55 lakh in 2013.

On Thursday, VCCircle reported that Ola had bought a controlling stake in ZipCash.

Mint had reported on 4 August that Ola plans to apply for a mobile wallet licence. Until recently, the company offered Ola Money as a digital payment option on its mobile app, using payment technology powered by PayU and ZipCash.

Ola has been planning to apply to the RBI for a semi-closed wallet licence so that it can offer the wallet on its app as well as on other apps.

Current regulations don’t allow marketplaces to offer closed wallets on their platforms. But a company that has a semi-closed wallet can offer digital cash payments to multiple merchants in a marketplace.

A closed wallet is issued by a company to a consumer for buying goods and services exclusively from that company. These instruments do not permit cash withdrawal or redemption.

A semi-closed wallet can be used to buy goods and services, including financial services, at clearly identified merchant locations or establishments, which have a specific contract with the issuer to accept the payment instruments. Semi-closed wallets also do not permit cash withdrawal or redemption by the holder.

Since Ola works as a marketplace, in which it connects customers with drivers using technology, offering a semi-closed wallet would ensure it complies with the law.

Ola announced in the last week of August that its wallet could be used to pay for services on other e-commerce platforms as well. Ola has partnered with OYO Rooms and is looking to partner with other merchants such as Lenskart and Saavn, the firm had said then.

Ola, which has raised at least $900 million from Falcon Edge Capital, DST Global and SoftBank among others, has been expanding into new businesses to diversify its business model.

Over the past four months, it has launched a food delivery service called Ola Café and a separate grocery ordering app called Ola Store. The company is also introducing a bus aggregation service this year.

The mobile wallet segment has got ample traction, with Alibaba-backed Paytm, owned by One97 Communications, leading the race. According to the company, it has more than 100 million Paytm wallet users who carry out over 75 million transactions every month. Freecharge, which was acquired by Snapdeal for $400 million, also launched a wallet last month.

Flipkart has bought payments services start-up FX Mart Pvt. Ltd, which holds a prepaid wallet licence, so as to add a payment service on its platform and on that of its unit Myntra, Mint reported on 1 September. Singapore-registered Flipkart Payments Pvt. Ltd. paid 45.4 crore for a majority stake in FX Mart, according to documents available with the Registrar of Companies (RoC)

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