In a country as diverse as ours, building technology for the masses is no easy task. But Niki.ai, a vernacular payment platform for the next billion users, co-founded by Shishir Modi, has done just that—by adding multilingual voice support for non-English speaking and first-time users.
THE LAST FEW YEARS HAVE SEEN AN EXPLOSIVE rise in online transactions in India, aided by increasing Internet penetration, smartphone usage and supportive government policies. But in a country with 22 official languages, online payment and e-commerce platforms with English language interfaces are usually not able to connect with the growing number of Internet users, who prefer to interact in their native Indian language, or do not speak English, or are not Internet-savvy. Even platforms with complicated digital interfaces featuring many tabs and prompts, pose a challenge for first-time users since they need to read, learn and understand it all to carry out simple transactions.
Enter Niki.ai, a conversational commerce solution that is overcoming these language and interface barriers to provide users a faster and more convenient way to transact online. According to Shishir Modi, Co-founder, Niki. ai, “Our goal is to simplify the online ordering experience for the next billion Internet users emerging from India’s tier-2 and tier-3 cities, who are yet to transact online due to complicated interfaces or language barriers. We believe that if one is able to carry out all important payments and bookings through a simple interface, where every service can be availed through conversations—the medium that one is most familiar with—the experience can enable millions of people to do online payments.”
Making online payments easy
To help every Indian transact online independently, the company has developed Niki, Bharat’s online agent that provides users the ease of a unique conversational interface, as well as 24/7 support, to ensure that they are never stuck during a transaction. Backed with conversational data of over four years, Niki leverages cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to enable users to talk to it in their own language, assisting them through every step of the transaction. Modi says, “These algorithms built on deep research enable Niki to understand user instructions and respond accordingly in an extremely personalised manner. Simply put, Niki ‘learns’ about the user so that the recommendations are much more accurate. So, if a user frequently travels on Fridays and by night buses, just a ‘show me some buses to Mumbai’ will get them responses tailored to their needs.”
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July - August 2019