Stockholm-based Truecaller is solidifying themselves as a full-featured crowdsourced phonebook after the announcement of their new Name Lookup feature. Previously Truecaller worked only by reverse searching a phone number, but after this update users can search for phone numbers by typing in someone’s name.
This is a fairly large update for a product that is seeing a lot of use. Truecaller now claims over 11 million users searching for 300 million phone numbers a month, either on their Android or iOS apps, or online. I’ve used them more than a few times, and they really come in handy when faced with a random number.
The privacy implications are not huge for number lookup – if you have a number you can press dial whenever you want. But some people don’t want their mobile number tied to a public name search, so with this update Truecaller was sure to keep privacy in each end-users hands, and uses the name lookup as a chance to monetize their directory.
The way name lookup works is like this: Using Truecaller’s Credits a person can request contact information through a “smart search” that’s based on a user’s wider social circle. The service then sends a text message to the person whose number has been requested, who then must approve the request to share their contact details with the requester. At first glance it seems like an unnecessary chain to get a number, but it makes sense if you’ve got no other options.
And while we’re still talking about privacy, it should probably be noted that anyone can opt out of their directory at any time – for both name or number lookup. Reverse number lookup will continue to be a free service.
During our September update they told us they have the deepest coverage in the Nordics (likely from plugging into other directories) but they’re seeing a ton of traction in India, where most people’s numbers are connected to unlisted prepaid SIM cards. Truecaller has been one of the first to provide some real phone coverage there, so it will be interesting to see how they monetize their name search there.
Last September Truecaller received a €1 million round led by Open Ocean Capital.