Shreyas Kulkarni

"Want to break the wallet and make it irrelevant to consumers:" Parth Joshi, CMO, BharatPe on postpe's first big TV campaign

The CMO wants postpe, a 'Buy Now, Pay Later' product to replace wallets, cash, UPI whilst taking on the likes of ZestMoney, Amazon Pay Later, LazyPe.

I will never forget Ramu kaka, the guy who first taught me the art of luring potential customers.

He was a fruit juice cart owner and every evening, he would park it near my society ground and call out to kids to come and drink healthy and tasty fruit juices; he only sold mosambi juice so I am still clueless as to why he’d say “juices”.

Anyway, his secret sauce of luring me and my friends was an age-old tactic. Say I was short of money or we were two friends and had the money for one glass of juice, he would remark, “koi nahi babu, aap aaram se kal de dena”.

This one line made me and all my friends fall in love with him and we drank without abandon. Little did we realise the wily fox would land up in front of our doors, at the end of the month, and ask for Rs 200 or Rs 300 when the cost of a single glass was Rs 20.

Something similar is happening to India’s consumers. We too are being encouraged to buy now, pay later. And this time, it’s not the Ramu Kaka or other sellers but intermediaries that are collectively known as the ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ (BNPL) category.

While the name illustrates this offering’s role, it is by no way a new phenomenon. Remember the EMIs your parents had paid for the family car or the credit cards you might be paying today, they too are a form of BNPL.

So, what are this postpe and other such brands like ZestMoney or LazyPe? They are new-age BNPL products that let you buy the stuff you want today and pay at a later time. postpe, which went live around a month ago, lets you pay the money in full a month after you use its card or convert it into three or six monthly instalments. postpe levies a 1.5 per cent interest rate on EMIs every month.

These BNPL products are also able to reach audiences credit cards, the OG BNPL product, struggled to reach.

“In Tier 2-3 cities, there are no swipe machines so credit cards do not make sense… (with postpe), there is no joining fee or annual fees and you don’t have to go through the tedious process usually associated with credit cards,” explains Parth Joshi, chief marketing officer, BharatPe that owns the BNPL brand postpe.

We recently came across postpe’s first major TVC on Start Sports during the ICC T20 World Cup (the brand is a sponsor for the event) and could not help but wonder the number of eyeballs the brand caught during the match between India and Pakistan.

Joshi tells us they are “very serious about building the BNPL category and you need eyeballs to do that and that is why our ICC partnership makes sense."

‘Tu de dena aaram se’ is what the ad tells us as Ramu Kaka did, in his own way, all those years ago but the lessons remain the same, this is not the India our parents grew up in where saving was the oxygen you breathed. Something changed along the way and it is the “rise of affluence,” remarks Joshi.

Parth Joshi
Parth Joshi

For the CMO, the Indian consumer is transitioning from a savings perspective to one where he can spend and live the best life he can.

“There are a lot of opportunities with the global economy and while Covid hasn’t been great if we don't look at it from the past one to the two-year horizon but from a last 20-odd year horizon, we see macro trends changing” leaning towards spending from one of savings seen in the previous generations.

PostPe, he feels, leads the category because you can use it online, at POS machines, and with QR codes too. “It’s convenient,” he remarks and goes on to say that, unlike credit cards, a BNPL product like his trusts you as a person and “as long as we do, we are okay wherever you spend it and you pay it back the next month.”

His assertion: “PostPe is just the next step of evolution where you're democratising the BNPL category.”

We assumed it’s only the young consumers PostPe would target but Joshi broke it down for us when he said “anybody who is creditworthy and between the ages of 20-45-50 is a customer."

He delved deeper and cut his consumer base as the Gen Zs “who’ve never seen a world without the internet.” They are inclined to new products and BNPL comes naturally for them.

The second-most important consumer for PostPe is the first jobbers who’d be on the lookout for a credit card to fulfil their needs at this stage of their career. “They are a natural fit”. Third, come the millennials who are in search of “convenience” and are tired of “carrying cash or multiple payment apps on their phones”.

While the brand has managed to grab eyeballs with its first campaign, we wondered how else it would market and promote itself… More campaigns or paid media posts or something else? Says Joshi, “We have a 360-plan, right from TVC to digital and performance marketing to other mediums like direct marketing, on-ground contact... this will go on till the next quarter.”

Joshi, who joined BharatPe, five months ago spent nearly five and a half years at Reckitt’s Singapore office and his last known designation was Head of Marketing, Global expansion Markets. When asked about Singapore’s prowess in fintech and his learnings from the market, he was quick to respond that supremacy depends on “how you cut fintech.”

He tells us if the comes to robo advisors, a few companies in Singapore are quite ahead of India but nothing can beat India and China when it comes to payments and transactions.

It’s been over a month since PostPe launched and as per Joshi, “We have heavy use cases on Zomato, people buying it for UBER, heavy usage on QR, on groceries, small retailers, and big retailers... it's democratised."

But, isn’t he worried about payment defaults that hold the ability to become a big issue? “Yes, we do predict and have internal models where we underwrite people to determine it (defaults) but these are early days and our underwriting models will evolve as we learn more about our customers,” came the response.

What Ramu Kaka did to me and my friends all those years ago, PostPe and its ilk are doing it today to Indian consumers. The only difference is we are well aware of what we getting into; an age-old formula marketed for India's affluent consumer.

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