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Branded payments!

This was the first thing that came to my mind when I first heard of Recharge. But what are branded payments? And why do we need them?

Branded payments are a form of alternate payment method. You might be already using branded payments in forms like gift cards or prepaid payment cards. As you might have observed, branded payments are prepaid with a specific limit.

As per The Fintech Times, A branded payment can allow a customer to avoid supplying their personal information across multiple services, using a gift or payment card as a financial source at all touchpoints and allowing them the flexibility to use anonymous data for their accounts and shield sensitive information including their name, date of birth or billing address.

For the customer, it makes life easier by helping to budgeting, managing and tracking their spending and making their shopping experience all the more pleasant. Users can control the balance stored on a prepaid card or the amount budgeted for their monthly mobile expenses and don’t have to worry about spending more money than they’ve allocated, making them ideal for budget control — including for families, who can use branded payments as an alternative to pocket money, allowing young children to enter a world of money in a simple, safe and secure way.

And that is what I discovered when I was researching about this new-age fintech startup called Recharge.

What is Recharge.Com and how it is pioneering branded payments

Recharge is the leading one-stop shop for all branded payment needs. They are making online recharge possible for anyone, anywhere, at any time, whether it’s to recharge your smartphone, gaming account, entertainment subscription, or prepaid money credit. Recharge.com serves millions of customers each and every day, recharging prepaid credit in as simple a way as possible.

Recharge.com offers branded payments from over 750 brands in one marketplace. We’re the go-to online store for digital prepaid credit for consumers who want to send or buy mobile top-ups, gift entertainment subscription cards to a loved one or themselves, or charge a prepaid credit card.

Recharge.Com

Their mission is simple. They want to make millions of lives easier, whether it be topping up a friend’s calling card, recharging your prepaid cards, or just making your subscriptions easier to manage.

But there is no point in me fangirling over them, is there? So let’s look at their testimonials.

A Trustpilot score of 4.4/5  and being associated with 750+ brands across 150 countries is a testament to their product proposition.

Another feature that Recharge offers is the ease of cross-border product transfer. It’s real-time, very convenient, and can also operate in regions where traditional transfers are difficult to do. Like if my cousin from Dubai wants to send me a birthday gift, all he needs to do is to head to Recharge.com, find the perfect top-up gift for me, and then send me the code, which I can then redeem at a shop of my choice. Cool, right?

Then there are the subscription management services for consumers. Subscription streamlining is becoming a big headache these days. We all have too many subscriptions today and with Recharge, instead of supplying your card data to the subscription service, you can use it like a prepaid service by supplying one of the prepaid branded payment cards available at Recharge.com — without the need to provide your personal information.

The journey so far

Like many startups from the late 90s, early 2000s, Recharge’s journey started at a small garage.

The founders would gather scratch cards from various call credit providers and digitize them to sell online. From there, customers could top-up their prepaid credit quickly without having to go to the store. This was 2004.

Come 2009, they officially kicked off Beltegoed in the Netherlands. And digitized the entire process, providing brand visibility amongst a new consumer base. When we asked the team at Recharge to sum up their journey, they had something poignant to say:

“We started in the same way some of the best success stories start: with two friends in a garage with a great idea. 10 years ago, you couldn’t top up your mobile phone online — and even in 2021, offline shops remain a key (and for some, the only) option for purchasing mobile credit. Our founders began Recharge.com in their garage, buying top-up cards in bulk and scratching the for codes to send to customers online. Fast forward 10 years and we’re now one of the fastest-growing scaleups in the Netherlands, with $36 million in funding, over 130 people in our team, and a presence in over 180 countries. 

While we’re no longer scratching cards for codes, we’re still finding new ways to bring branded payments to consumers no matter where in the world they are. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved over the last decade, but we’re very ambitious and only just getting started — there’s still a lot of room for improvement, innovation, and growth. Recharge.com is stepping into a $3+ trillion marketplace that no one owns on an international level, and we’re on that path to global leadership in branded payments.”

Revenue?

All this is amazing from a customer’s perspective. But what of the business perspective? Particularly the revenue stream. So I did some digging.

  • Their revenue stream mainly comes from the sale of gift cards, where Recharge takes a cut of the total value from the merchant/brand.
  • The next revenue stream is through their charging of service fees, where they charge the customer to use their service due to its convenience and the customer support they offer when things go wrong or when someone needs support.
  • In my opinion, another potential source of revenue could be through featuring new local merchants to their customer base or contextualizing advertisements for their customers, thereby driving footfall to the merchants. Something like a click-through rate for offline stores!

Opportunities that lie ahead

In my opinion, I think that as Recharge is pro-consumer privacy, tokenization of payments could be a way forward for them. This would do away with the need for consumers to store their card numbers and other credentials on the merchants’ end.

They could partner with payment intermediaries like Visa, Mastercard, or alternately provide private label tokenized solutions for other banks and payment providers, and merchants.

They could also get fully into loyalty rewards management for brands. Since they have data about where and what consumers buy, it would help them build loyalty programs for brands.

Challenges

Personally, one of the big challenges on the horizon I see is probably the rise of DeFi. Or rather, blockchain-based payment solutions that offer seamless, real-time, and low-cost cross-border payments.

Another challenge again from DeFi, is the anonymity it offers. And that no one central agency controls your data.

Plus, space is heating up with many competitors, both internationally and locally, when it comes to gift cards. So to scale, it would boil down to which platform has onboarded more merchants and not only more, but relevant and good brands.


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Kamalika Poddar
Author

A self-proclaimed bibliophile, Kamalika draws inferences from various eclectic sources to analyze current affairs. She has a penchant for peeling the layers of the onion, in order to get to the core of things. And this inquisitiveness of hers got her recognized as a Top Voice by LinkedIn India-2020. She is an Alum of MDI Gurgaon, currently working as a business analyst.

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