"We want to be the one-stop place for cards".
--Nikhil Wason, Co-Founder and CEO, Cardback
With credit and debit cards gaining popularity in India today and emerging slowly as the preferred payment option for people especially in the country's metros, Cardback, a mobile app is on strong turf and creating waves.
Cardback not only helps decrease information overload from all the offers and rewards that each piece of plastic offers, it also enables customers to make more informed decisions about when, where and how to use their credit, debit and loyalty cards.
Founded by Nikhil Wason and Nidhi Gurnani, the location-aware mobile product was an idea born after multiple iterations. For Nikhil, this was his third start-up, for Nidhi, her first.
Nikhil-who was always fascinated with the thought of being an entrepreneur-decided to launch a start-up in 2009, when following his education at Columbia University in the US, he came back to India. Despite excellent job offers in hand, Nikhil opted to do something on his own. While he did not enjoy success with his first two efforts, Cardback was different.
"With CardBack it was all about building on an idea that solved a problem, one that say, even I was facing personally. The idea also had to be something that did not involve us having to tie up with a big company. As a two-member team, this was a challenge. Cardback fulfilled that requirement", says Nikhil.
The duo wanted to launch a product that was secure for users, not just in terms of certifications, but dealing with their mind sets. "We therefore came up with a model where users did not need to share their card numbers-only the basic information, the meta data of the card. The technology we built gathers the information needed", Nikhil adds.
Breaking the mould, the company introduced the public version of the product in September, 2013, initially on the Android platform. At that time, the mobile phenomenon wasn't as big as it is today. The company went against the flow by being mobile first.
Later, in October, 2014, it also made available the service on all popular mobile planks. Since then, Cardback has been building mind share in India and capturing the imagination of users based on the fact that it enables people to get the best out of their credit, debit and loyalty cards when they are out shopping, dining, fuelling up or doing any of the things they normally do on a daily basis.
It enables them to discover offers and rewards on their cards and mobile wallets and know about the best way to pay before they are about to make a payment. "Cardback is based on multiple factors, not just deals. It can tell you which features of the card you should use, and the reward points accumulated. It makes recommendations on the basis of the cards you hold. Sometimes if you forget to open the app, you receive a notification. It is very highly customized, which is one of the USPs of the offering", Nikhil states.
In Nikhil's view Cardback's success is based on the fact the company had weighed its pros and cons before introducing the product, ensuring that it fitted the needs of users. It chose its platforms properly as well. "While we began with Android, we decided to go beyond, and try iOS and Windows".
Recognizing that carefully choosing the team and co-founder was of the utmost importance, Cardback focused on the people it hired. "Initially, when we hired, we had to fire too, but that was part of our learning. Thereafter, we have been hiring right. We are a core technology company, where nearly 70 percent of us are techies", Nikhil informs.
Speaking about the future, Nikhil says that he would like Cardback to be the payment recommendation platform of choice. "We are already close to touching one lakh users and going forward, want to be present whenever there is a payment about to be made. We want to be there to tell people what card they must choose".
Since Cardback is a self-learning platform, the more users deploy the service, the more useful it becomes. "We plan to integrate a rewards system which will tell you how best to redeem the points you have accumulated on your cards. Basically, how to make better use of your points. That is coming over the next few months-air miles and points-and will make Cardback a holistic solution", Nikhil says.
In his view, once Cardback gains greater acceptance, it will become a platform to manage everything related to cards and digital wallets. "We want to be the one-stop place for cards", he adds. Cardback is additionally talking to the big players in the market such as banks. "We are building analytics and Business Intelligence products for the banks and adding support for mobile wallets. The idea is to go beyond just cards'" Nikhil informs.
As one of the NASSCOM Emerge 50 2014 company, Cardback is appreciative of the work that the chamber has been doing to connect it with players in the industry that may be of benefit to it.