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Truecaller hits 200 million users

Manish Singh
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 30: CEO of Truecaller Alan Mamedi speaks on stage during TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018 at Treptow Arena on November 30, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Truecaller, one of the world’s largest caller-identification service providers, has amassed 200 million monthly active users and is increasingly proving that it can turn a profit, it said Tuesday. The company also noted that India is its largest market with 150 million active users.

Reaching the 200 million milestone gives the Swedish firm a significant lead over its Seattle-based rival Hiya, which had about 100 million users as of October last year.

But unlike its rivals, Truecaller has expanded beyond its caller ID and spam monitoring service. In recent years, it has added messaging and payments services in some markets. Both of these are gaining adoption, said Truecaller co-founder and chief executive Alan Mamedi (pictured above) in an interview with TechCrunch.

The payments service, currently available only in India, would soon be expanded to some African markets, said Mamedi. In India, Truecaller plans to offer lending service in a few weeks, he said.

Finances

There are scores of startups in India today offering payments service to users. Dozens of firms, including Truecaller and giants such as Alibaba-backed Paytm and Walmart's PhonePe have rolled out payments service in the country that is built atop of UPI, an infrastructure developed by a coalition of banks and backed by the government.

What makes Truecaller unique is that it is not burning so much money.

Mamedi said Truecaller was profitable in the quarter that ended in December. "It's been a very proud moment for us, especially in an industry where most companies spend a lot of money to onboard users," he said. Truecaller has raised about $99 million to date, per Crunchbase, and counts Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins among its investors.

Truecaller generates more than half of its revenue from ads that it serves to its users. But Mamedi said the firm's subscription service, which offers a range of additional features including stripping of ads, is gaining traction. Today it accounts for about 30 percent of all revenue Truecaller clocks, he said.

The premium offering is available for 70 cents a month in India. Mamedi said the company is experimenting with pricing in different markets. In the U.S., the same monthly subscription is priced at $2.99.

The startup will attempt to maintain this momentum -- and it successfully did so in January -- but Mamedi cautioned that things may change based on immediate business decisions such as potential acquisition of startups. What happens next? IPO is on the cards, but he said the startup will take two years to be ready for that phase of its journey.