THE INTREPID IN­NO­VA­TOR

Marwar - - Contents - Text Ashutosh Go­tad

There are few in­her­i­tors who de­cide to for­sake fam­ily legacy and cre­ate in­de­pen­dent wealth through in­no­va­tion and en­ter­prise. Vi­nay Kalantri, the founder and manag­ing di­rec­tor of The Mo­bile Wal­let is among them.

There are few in­her­i­tors who de­cide to for­sake fam­ily legacy and cre­ate in­de­pen­dent wealth through in­no­va­tion and en­ter­prise. Such is the case with Vi­nay Kalantri, the founder and manag­ing di­rec­tor of The Mo­bile Wal­let Pri­vate Lim­ited.

Vi­nay Kalantri be­longs to the im­mensely suc­cess­ful Balaji Group of Com­pa­nies, which is owned by his fa­ther, the equally well-known Vijay Kalantri. The Kalantris orig­i­nally be­long to Merta, Ra­jasthan—a city that has great his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance since it was here that Meer­abai, the po­et­ess and the most pop­u­lar devo­tee of Lord Kr­ishna, was born. Dur­ing his for­ma­tive years, the fam­ily al­ready had a suc­cess­ful busi­ness. His fa­ther Vijay Kalantri had in­cor­po­rated Balaji Group of Com­pa­nies in 1985 that has made its mark in a wide ar­ray of fields like tex­tiles, trad­ing, IT, tele­com, project ad­vi­sory, fi­nan­cial ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture projects. Its flag­ship com­pany, Balaji In­fra Projects Lim­ited (BIPL) is a lead­ing in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­oper with in­ter­ests in ports, rail, road, SEZ, power and other in­fra­struc­ture projects. So what led Vi­nay to choose a dif­fer­ent path when he could have taken over such a re­mark­able legacy?

“I am a sec­ond gen­er­a­tion busi­ness­man with a strong be­lief that en­ti­tle­ment comes only with per­for­mance,” says Vi­nay in re­ply. “I have al­ways wanted to lead from the front, and hence since my teenage years, I have been into busi­nesses, ei­ther help­ing my fam­ily, or dab­bling in a few ven­tures on my own. I started busi­nesses and ex­ited them at great val­u­a­tions. But I have al­ways as­pired to be a tech­nol­ogy en­tre­pre­neur.”

In all this, his fa­ther, how­ever, has been a strong in­spi­ra­tion al­ways. Here, Vi­nay rem­i­nisces about a say­ing his fa­ther had coined, “You can have a new dream ev­ery time you close your eyes, the key is to wake up ev­ery day and pur­sue the dream and take it to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion.” This say­ing res­onates in the back of Vi­nay’s mind ev­ery mo­ment, show­ing in his work and in­ter­ests. “I have al­ways been more in­clined towards new age and tech­nol­ogy busi­nesses, and hence, the pre­vi­ous busi­nesses and now The Mo­bile Wal­let. It feels a lot less like work when you’re do­ing some­thing you love. Some­times I like tak­ing a break from work/meet­ings just to keep my­self work­ing on the dream that I am recre­at­ing in real life. I don't think you ever stop creat­ing dreams, be it for you or for oth­ers, as long as you are en­joy­ing the process.” The in­cep­tion of a dream In­dia is go­ing dig­i­tal and Vi­nay has lever­aged this to his ad­van­tage. In late 2015, with the firm be­lief that the next big rev­o­lu­tion in In­dia was pos­si­ble only on mo­bile/dig­i­tal pay­ments, he started The Mo­bile Wal­let—a Mum­bai-based fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy com­pany that pro­vides not just a cashless so­lu­tion, but also a neo-bank­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to its cus­tomers—with which he as­pires to cre­ate a next-gen bank­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for cus­tomers. What de­fines the brand is user-friendly ap­proach and ser­vices, and Vi­nay and team in­tends to take this propo­si­tion to the masses. A good ex­am­ple of this is Hazira Town­ship, also known as Nand Nike­tan, In­dia’s first pri­vate sec­tor town­ship to go cashless with the help of The Mo­bile Wal­let. The com­pany also in­tends to in­tro­duce blockchain tech­nol­ogy ecosys­tem in the re­tail pay­ment sec­tor, which can be ap­plied to al­most all fields in the fi­nan­cial sec­tor, in­clud­ing pay­ments and trans­fers. The Mo­bile Wal­let has its own pre­paid debit card which is linked to the

e-wal­let; this makes trans­ac­tions eas­ier. The com­pany has also di­ver­si­fied and has other prod­ucts. The Food Wal­let—a sys­tem­atic pre­paid food coupon and dis­count por­tal—is just one of them.

A fu­tur­is­tic propo­si­tion

The Mo­bile Wal­let was started with the in­ten­tion to do some­thing dis­rup­tive. Vi­nay says, “If I can­not bring dis­rup­tion in a mar­ket, then I don’t even think about get­ting into it.” At The Mo­bile Wal­let, the dis­rup­tion was a pre­paid card—a card that truly be­came the first in­ter­op­er­a­ble pay­ment in­stru­ment in In­dia. With the launch of this card, their ac­cep­tance net­work was amongst the high­est, if not the high­est, in In­dia, with­out in­vest­ing a sin­gle ru­pee in build­ing the ac­cep­tance net­work.

Their first in­no­va­tion, In­dia’s first SmartSpend ac­count, com­bines the best of a MasterCard and a dig­i­tal wal­let to make your spends a whole lot smarter. They also in­tend to re­de­fine the bank­ing of to­mor­row by mak­ing it ‘hu­man’, ‘hon­est’ and ‘happy’. The com­pany has been recog­nised by Sil­i­conIn­dia as amongst the top 10 promis­ing e-pay­ment so­lu­tion providers in In­dia. And, as per the lat­est RBI data, they make more than 5% of In­dia’s pre­paid trans­ac­tions.

Op­er­at­ing in a chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment

Vi­nay takes in­spi­ra­tion from Bill Gates’ fa­mous state­ment, “Bank­ing is nec­es­sary, but banks are not.” With The Mo­bile Wal­let, he has cre­ated a prod­uct with short and sim­pli­fied pro­cesses that can be com­pleted as per con­sumers’ con­ve­nience. The most im­por­tant chal­lenge—data se­cu­rity—was taken care of by launch­ing a chip and pin pre­paid card to re­duce vul­ner­a­bil­ity dur­ing trans­ac­tion pro­cess­ing.

The two ma­jor di­men­sions The Mo­bile Wal­let fo­cuses on are cus­tomer/ client in­ter­ac­tion and al­lo­ca­tion of task. Through client in­ter­ac­tion, they have been in a po­si­tion to im­pro­vise the prod­uct as per the cus­tomer’s need. Au­to­mated trans­ac­tions and load pro­cesses, on the other hand, have stream­lined the op­er­a­tions, re­duc­ing man­made er­rors and au­to­mated stan­dard pro­to­cols have en­sured cus­tomers’ trust.

A promis­ing fu­ture

The past one year has been pretty ex­cit­ing for r the com­pany as it has wit­nessed ex­po­nen­tial growth, h even in the back­drop of a ‘re­mon­e­tised’ econ­omy. Month-on­month, trans­ac­tions on his plat­forms are ris­ing, which, for Vi­nay, is a pos­i­tive in­di­ca­tor of the growth of the dig­i­tal pay­ment in­dus­try. In­dia also ranks sec­ond and third in the world in terms mo­bile phone sub­scrip­tions and num­ber of in­ter­net users, re­spec­tively. This pro­vides a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for a ‘less cash’ econ­omy. How­ever, Vi­nay also ad­mits that there are not many in­cen­tives for con­sumers to go dig­i­tal yet. He feels the gov­ern­ment needs to re­ward con­sumers who pre­fer trans­act­ing dig­i­tally.

The fam­ily man be­hind the busi­ness­man

Vi­nay con­sid­ers him­self lucky to have a beau­ti­ful fam­ily. He con­sid­ers his daugh­ter as the biggest source of in­spi­ra­tion and en­ergy. Her sim­ple ques­tions have taught him to not ac­cept ev­ery­thing at face value but to ask ‘why’.

His wife Heena comes from a busi­ness fam­ily and un­der­stands the pres­sure of build­ing busi­nesses ground up. She be­ing a work­ing mem­ber in the com­pany, has taught Vi­nay a lot about how suc­cess­ful or­gan­i­sa­tions are built with peo­ple and not just pro­cesses and prod­ucts. His favourite pas­times are ski­ing and fly­ing drones, and his most loved des­ti­na­tion is Lon­don.

Top: Mock-up of the 'The Mo­bile Wal­let' card with a phone; Be­low: Vi­nay Kalantri with wife Heena and daugh­ter Ivanna

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