Indian fintech giant PhonePe is preparing to launch a dedicated app store for Android users in India, the latest product push from the Walmart-backed firm that commands the mobile payments market in the second largest Asian economy.
The app store, designed to offer hyper-localized services based on customer context, aims to assist developers with “high-quality” user acquisition through multilingual solutions, according to an internal company document reviewed by TechCrunch.
PhonePe entering the app store market, still several weeks away, follows the Bengaluru-headquartered startup acquiring IndusOS, an app store maker that served customers through partnership with smartphone vendors.
PhonePe, the most valuable Indian fintech startup that competes aggressively with Google’s Google Pay app in India, plans to strengthen its engagement with smartphone vendors, including with firms such as Xiaomi, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The app store will offer “premiere experience for millions of users with high-quality advertisements and custom targeting,” support for 12 languages and 24×7 live chat, the document said.
Building an app store has long been one of the focuses for PhonePe, according to a senior developer who has engaged with the startup’s leadership team. PhonePe, which has offered a mini app store within its marquee app for years, has held the view that consumers are reluctant to download multiple apps on their phones, the developer said, who like the other source, requested anonymity to speak candidly.
PhonePe — which has raised $750 million from General Atlantic, Walmart and Tiger Global among others as part of an ongoing funding round this year — confirmed that it’s working to launch an app store in India.
In a statement to TechCrunch, a PhonePe spokesperson said that Google commands 97% of the Indian app store market and there’s an opportunity for someone like PhonePe, which has amassed over 450 million registered users in the country, to build an alternative app store that is “more localized not just from a language perspective but also from a discovery and consumer interest perspective.”
The timing is also “favorable for us,” the firm said, pointing to a recent order from the Indian antitrust watchdog Competition Commission of India that paves the way for other developers to build and launch their app stores on Google Play. A tribunal court has since delivered some relief to Google.
PhonePe confirmed that it’s holding multiple conversations with phone makers in India and said “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 localised 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 app store is the latest product push from PhonePe, which recently also entered the e-commerce category. The startup separated from its parent firm Flipkart last year.