India’s elephantine fintech, the Walmart-backed firm PhonePe, which controls the mobile payments business in the second-largest Asian economy, is getting ready to launch a separate app store for Android users in India.
According to an internal corporate document acquired by TechCrunch, the app store, created to provide hyper-localized services based on client context, seeks to help developers with “high-quality” user acquisition through multilingual solutions.
A few weeks from now, PhonePe will enter the app store industry. This comes after the Bengaluru-based startup acquired IndusOS, an app store creator that assisted users in doing business with various smartphone suppliers.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, PhonePe, the most valuable fintech startup in India that fiercely competes with Google Pay in that country, intends to deepen its relationships with smartphone manufacturers, including Xiaomi.
The memo stated that the app store will provide “premier experience for millions of users with high-quality advertisements and custom targeting,” support for 12 languages, and round-the-clock live chat. PhonePe said that it is attempting to open an app store in India.
A PhonePe representative told TechCrunch that Google controls 97% of the Indian app store market and that there is a chance for a company like PhonePe, which has more than 450 million users registered there, to create a competing app store that is “more localised not just from a language perspective but also from a discovery and consumer interest perspective.”
The timing is also “favourable for us,” the company claimed, citing a recent order from the Competition Commission of India(CCI), an Indian antitrust watchdog, that clarifies the path for other developers to create and launch own app store on Google Play. Since then, Google has received some relief from a tribunal court.
PhonePe acknowledged that it has been in contact with Indian phone manufacturers on a number of occasions, adding that “everyone is very receptive, especially since CCI has clarified that Google cannot engage in anti-competitive practices.”
“All the OEMs are excited about PhonePe building out a localized App store for the Indian market. We expect to be live on all Android OEMs within the first few months of launch. We have already closed terms with one of the largest OEMs and are trying to get the others rapidly onboard over the next couple of months.”
The next product launch from PhonePe—which has lately also entered the e-commerce space is the app store. Last year, the startup broke away from its parent company, Flipkart.
Although Google and its billing service are a problem for app developers, PhonePe may be able to entice them away, and Google may not take this challenge lightly given that PhonePe has surpassed Google in UPI payments; the tech giant may not want the same to happen in the app store space as well.