BENGALURU: Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani has invested an undisclosed sum in Bangalore-based mobile payments data startup Mubble that was founded by telecom industry veterans, marking the former UIDAI chairman’s second investment in an early-stage startup this year.
In an interview on Tuesday, Nilekani said that the solutions offered by Mubble were different from others in the mobile payments space and would address pain points faced typically by smartphone users. Mubble is a smartphone app that helps users track their telecom spending as well as mobile data usage, using an in-built self-learning analytics tool.
“I like what they (Mubble) are doing,” Nilekani told ET over phone. “It’s not a me-too idea and what they are doing are specifically addressing pain points that are faced by consumers. And that’s what I like about them.”
Mubble was co-founded in 2013 by former Bharti Airtel executive Ashwin Ramaswamy, Pranav Jha who previously worked at Appnomic and BMC Software and former OnMobile and Infosys executive Raghvendra Varma.
Nilekani indicated that he would continue to back companies that are trying to address problems that are rampant in unorganized sectors and are building unique tools that can solve some of those problems.
“I like to invest in companies that are trying to do new things, especially those that are tackling unorganized sectors and trying to make them more organized. My investment in Mubble is the first time for me in the mobile payments space..and gives me a ringside view of what is happening in the sector,” said Nilekani.
Ramaswamy did not disclose the total amount that Mubble has raised so far, including Nilekani’s contribution, but said that almost the entire amount would be spent on hiring top engineering talent.
“The first version of our product is out and we have an exciting product development roadmap ahead of us,” said Ramaswamy. “We’re solving some very real problems faced by users — if you look at the app ecosystem, most apps are designed assuming that users have access to high-speed internet at all times. What we’re ensuring is that users with a slower 2G connection can also access the app easily.”
Mubble’s app for smartphone users has clocked over half a million downloads in less than six months, since it went live, the company said. The app, which is available in multiple Indian languages, has also been designed to work offline, thereby helping users limit mobile data usage.
Nilekani is currently also helping architect a new platform for mobile payments and advising the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on policy and innovation, using Aadhaar for payment authentication.
In an interview in August, Nilekani had said that the traditional financial services sector was facing huge disruption from the rise of smartphones and payments bank licences from the RBI and existing banks would have to create disruptive new-age solutions in order to remain relevant.