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How HipBar Is Going AI-First To Drive The Future of Drinks

Over the past four years, the internet penetration rate has increased at a jet speed and with increased smartphone adoption & data network improvement, the mobile wallet ecosystem in India has grown exponentially.


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Having a primarily young demographic, India has more tech-savvy millennials entering legal drinking age every year. And in order to offer them an opportunity to go cashless for their drinks — something that’s never been possible before, HipBar emerged as an RBI-approved mobile wallet meant exclusively for transacting adult beverages.

“We offer convenience, privacy & security to our users with 100% compliance with existing regulatory norms,” said Prasanna Natarajan, Founder and CEO of HipBar.

Hip Bar Private Limited was formally incorporated as an entity in 2015, however, the company went into recruitment, project, and development mode in June 2016 and launched its consumer proposition in February of 2017. Talking about the funding phase, HipBar in Jun 2018, received equity funding of ₹27 crore from Diageo India, a leading beverage alcohol group.

HipBar started out in only two cities initially, however, the company has recently increased its presence from two cities in January 2019 to 10 cities. Talking about a number, HipBar offered fully compliant, age-verified home delivery in Bengaluru from Oct 2017 to Nov 2018, successfully fulfilling 69,512 deliveries across 154 Pin Code locations (which is 50% of Bengaluru).

That is not all, the company has also partnered with several brands and 72 retail partners and employed around 250 delivery agents. Till date, HipBar has acquired 3,06,933 customers across 10 cities of operation.  And Natarajan believes that the company will be closing the fiscal year 2019 with around 1.5 Cr of revenue. 

Tech And Security At HipBar

Technology is the driving force behind HipBar — the HipBar apps are built in such a way that it provides a  scalable, secure and a solid digital infrastructure based on the standards set by IndiaStack. The apps are in line with IndiaStack, a set of APIs that allows governments, businesses, start-ups and developers to utilize a unique digital Infrastructure for establishing a presence-less, paperless, and cashless service delivery. Also, its services are cloud-native, use open source standards and is backed by Kubernetes.

Furthermore, HipBar is also actively using AI and ML. Using data from purchase patterns, trends, timings etc. the company is not helping brands and retailers to manage their stock but is also optimising promotions. In terms of policy making, HipBar is using data such as demographic details and consumer patterns.

When asked how safe and secure HipBar is, Mr Natarajan said, “compliance is at the core of our operations. We are an RBI-approved wallet and are 100% compliant with existing government standards.  Customer & retailer data is black-boxed and protected by ISO/IEC 27002 security standards which are the industry standard for financial entities dealing with public transaction data.”

Making A Difference

With the help of HipBar as consumers could re-order at their convenience, stocking reduced and the average order value decreased from ₹1,200 in October 2017 to ₹800 in October 2018, aligning with the company’s vision of responsible consumption. Also, 60% of all HipBar orders were concentrated on the weekend (Friday evening to Sunday evening) and 70% of all orders were initiated between 6 pm and 9 pm, reducing the possibility of heading out for more drinks (and potentially driving).

17.5% of our customer base were women who felt more comfortable to order at home rather than go to the store to pick up their beverages. And 100% of the 69,512 successfully delivered orders were age-verified using a government recognized photo ID — 90% of the case it was either an Aadhaar card, PAN card or Driving license.

“HipBar is a pioneer in this space and currently has no direct competitors,” said Natarajan. “We’re more than just a digital payment solution as we connect all industry stakeholders and enable our customers to manage/monitor their consumption habits. Our ability to go beyond payments & create experiences is what makes us different from other mobile wallets.”

The Roadmap Ahead

Looking into the future, HipBar’s aim is to increase its presence to 50 cities in the next two year and aggregate 2.5 million age-verified customers. The company is also expecting to change the game by being enablers for Home Delivery of alcohol beverage products in at least 20 major cities in the next 2 years.

“We are more interested in transforming the ecosystem and we can’t do it on our own. We would like to play the role of an enabler so that there are more players who challenge the status quo & craft unique tech solutions that ultimately benefit the customer and the industry at large,” Natarajan concluded.

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Harshajit Sarmah
Harshajit is a writer / blogger / vlogger. A passionate music lover whose talents range from dance to video making to cooking. Football runs in his blood. Like literally! He is also a self-proclaimed technician and likes repairing and fixing stuff. When he is not writing or making videos, you can find him reading books/blogs or watching videos that motivate him or teaches him new things.

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