UPI was the gamechanger for online gaming, reckons MPL cofounder

Fantasy sports in India witnessed tremendous growth in the latter half of the last decade. And the main reason for this progress was the launch of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in 2016, according to Sai Srinivas, co-founder and CEO of online gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL).

“For any digital ecosystem to take off, you need data, device and payments. UPI enabled that for the gaming industry and has certainly been the gamechanger,” said Srinivas at The Makers Summit 2021 by Inc42 Plus.

UPI is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application, merging several banking features, including the transfer of funds.

It was launched by the NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) on August 26, 2016 as a digital payments solution.

Since fantasy gaming platforms, including MPL, require users to pay an entry fee to play a contest, UPI provided an easy solution for payments for the gamers.

The real-time mobile payment system did away with the hassle of entering debit card or credit card details for every transaction, ensuring seamless fund collection from customers.

A KPMG report stated that the number of fantasy sports operators grew from 10 platforms in 2016 to 70 in 2018, despite not being listed on the Google Play Store due to its real-money policies.

The user base also soared to 100 million in 2020 from a mere two million in 2016.

“The only thing the Google Play Store provides you is trust. There are equally good software solution providers who’ll allow you to host your APK links,” Srinivas said.

“At the end of the day, all that matters is whether you have a strong product-market fit (PMF). A strong PMF is like a downstream river. Regardless of the obstacles, you’ll keep flowing ahead,” he reckoned.

MPL has been seeing constant growth since its launch in 2018, claiming to have more than 60 million users on its platform.

Along with fantasy gaming, the Bangalore-based firm hosts a plethora of casual games that it licenses from gaming studios and independent developers.

Currently, there are over 60 games on MPL, including pool, chess, ludo, rummy and fruit chop.