Big Idea

Bye, bye OTPs: Use any app after a swipe

SAWO Labs makes registration on apps easier for the user and cheaper for the client apps

If you want to try a new app, to order a meal or watch a show, you are usually asked to jump through hoops. First you enter your details, while fending off the annoyingly persistent autocorrect, and then you have to prove that those details are truly yours, by entering an OTP sent to your registered mobile number. Often, just to push you into tearing your hair out, the OTP does not arrive and you have to start from square one. SAWO Labs has heard your cry of despair.

This Mumbai-based start-up has cut this process down to one step. All you have to do is unlock your phone with a touch.

Here is how it works. When you download any of SAWO’s client apps, you will have to enter your details and verify it, as usual. But, you have to do that only once. Then, the SAWO magic — which is essentially six lines of code inserted into the client app’s code — takes over. It takes your details, encrypts it and stores it on your phone. After that, whenever you download any other SAWO’s client app, you can simply press ‘Register’. The new app locks your screen and, when you unlock it with a touch, you would have given permission to pull out the details from your phone and share it with this app. The verification is done simultaneously.

Prabhat Sahu, the 23-year-old founder of the start-up, says the process of registering with a new app usually takes 1.5 minutes. SAWO Labs has brought that down to 0.06 seconds.

Sahu started work on this solution after his experience of trying to login to a popular OTT site. He was on a 14-day quarantine when this happened. He entered the details and waited for the OTP to come, to complete the registration. “The OTP didn’t come for 2.5 hours,” he says.

“Eventually, I decided to figure out what happened. It was then that it struck me that this was a problem and I should build something to bypass it, and accidentally ended up building architecture for this API. I started coding for it on May 28,” he shares. On June 15, he hired two interns and, by July 16, a beta version of the product was created. The team which was initially just Sahu and two paid interns has now grown to a team of 11, all working remotely. “I have not met my team members in person till date. It is truly a pandemic product,” he says.

Their product, according to him, has cut down any delay in the process caused by an overloaded telecom network. SAWO Labs’ product has a 100% login success rate while OTP carriers have a success rate of 70%. The product has also brought down the cost of authentication for companies, from 19 paisa per authentication to 5 paisa.

According to Sahu, there is no company in India that offers a similar password-less, OTP-less product. Globally, he says, SAWO Labs is competitively priced. For example, Cotter charges a company Rs.1.53 per authentication and Hypr charges $1, compared to SAWO’s 5 paisa ( Rs.0.05). “That is because we don't save data and all of these other companies do,” he says.

Currently, the company follows a subscription model. Free services are provided up to 5,000 customers. With approximately Rs.60 billion being spent every year on OTP authentication platforms (just for the top 500 companies), Sahu says that the opportunities are endless. Post COVID-19, with companies looking to cut down costs, he believes that SAWO with its simplified process and low costs has several possibilities for growth.

By the end of October 2021, the start-up hopes to have around 520 clients onboard.