Ashee Sharma

"In emerging markets, people love outsmarting spam..."

...says Kari Krishnamurthy, VP, brand and PR strategy, Truecaller, during an interview about Truecaller 8, the latest version of the app.

The call identification and spam detection app, Truecaller, yesterday announced its largest ever brand and product transformation - Truecaller 8.

In addition to a new logo and brand philosophy, 'Stay Ahead', the redesigned app comes with an array of features including SMS and flash messaging. Among the bigger announcements at the company's first annual 'Stay Ahead' event was the launch of 'Truecaller Pay', a UPI-based mobile payment service launched in partnership with ICICI Bank, video calling assisted by Google Duo and partnership with Airtel to bring caller ID to non-data users through 'Airtel Truecaller ID'.

"In emerging markets, people love outsmarting spam..."
"In emerging markets, people love outsmarting spam..."
"In emerging markets, people love outsmarting spam..."
According to Kari Krishnamurthy, VP, brand and PR strategy, Truecaller, with the introduction of innovative features and products over the years, the company stands "at the cusp of becoming a large communication platform" today, and so the brand refresh is in order.

"We have come a long way from being a basic utility app. It's not just about features and products, but emotions such as the delight of recognising an opportunity - something we underscored through our first television campaign - the app evokes every time people use it. Spam is a big concern in India and other emerging markets. People love outsmarting it. Customers have narrated many such instances to us and we realise that we are more than a caller ID brand," he says.

With the introduction of Truecaller 8, the company is all set to explore new territories now. Krishnamurthy, who is conscious of the fact that a brand cannot stand for multiple ideas, adds, "The evolution of Truecaller is not mere technological innovation. It is our understanding of the market. Our one-line brief to the agency - BBH Stockholm - was that we want to be seen as a united brand, reflective of the emotions people attach to it."

"In emerging markets, people love outsmarting spam..."
Through Truecaller 8, the brand wants to come across as more approachable and reach out to people who are not yet on board. The promise is to deliver a seamless communication experience.

One of the ways in which the new version can help in achieving this is the 'Airtel Truecaller ID' which extends the caller ID feature of Truecaller to Airtel's non-data customers who use feature phones. It will be delivered to users via Flash SMS before the call hits their mobile.

This subscription based service will enable users to avoid spam calls without having to subscribe to data services or buy a smartphone. Emphasising on the importance of the feature phone market, Krishnamurthy adds, "While smart phone adoption has been phenomenal in India, the adoption or sale of feature phones, though stagnant, has not dropped. In tier 2 towns, even today, the second phone in every home or the primary phone of the family bread winner remains a feature phone."

Further, 'Truecaller Pay' will allow millions of users in the country to instantly create a UPI ID, and send money to any UPI ID or a mobile number registered with the BHIM app. It will also enable mobile recharge from within the Truecaller app.

This partnership puts the Truecaller-ICICI Bank platform among India's largest mobile payment platforms with 150 million customers of the app gaining access to UPI-based payments. Users of the Truecaller app, including non-ICICI Bank customers, can link their account (of any bank participating in UPI) to create a UPI ID and instantly make payments in a safe and secure manner.

The integration of Google Duo, a high-quality video calling service, will add to the value of Truecaller's dialer, caller ID, and spam blocking app. The feature will be available in the coming months for Android and iOS as a permission-based service where users will be able to opt in and out at any time.

Further, TrueSDK, a tool which enables registered third party apps to on board users with their Truecaller profile and verified phone number, will now become platform agnostic with its support for iOS and web platforms.

Talking about his biggest challenge as Truecaller ambitiously starts out on a new trajectory, Krishnamurthy notes, "There is no dearth of adoption for a brand such as ours. We have never had a problem with growth. The toughest part, today, is to satisfy existing consumers and we hope the uniqueness of Truecaller 8 will help us in achieving this."

Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Truecaller was founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Atomico and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.