Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma told Bloomberg how he envisages hitting a highly ambitious target of 200 million accounts in the firm’s first year as a bank.
The Indian firm was one of eleven awarded provisional licences by RBI to become a payments bank in August last year.
Put into context, the entire population of India is approximately 1.25 billion so, even though the country has a low penetration of traditional bank accounts, Paytm’s founder is setting the bar high.
He explained how the firm, which will launch a banking service before November this year, intends to gain traction.
“Our ambition is out and clear. In the first calendar year of banking operations, we are targeting 200 million or 20 crore accounts. We have to build incredibly large distribution there. We will rely on our existing app downloads that is already there. Paytm is out there with a significant amount of app users and user base. We will look to convert them into bank customers.”
Paytm is a well established mobile payments and commerce firm in the Indian market, whose backers include Chinese giant Alibaba.
However, it does face an array of competitors, including other newly licensed payments banks. The country’s top three operators, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, all hold licences.
Interestingly, Shekhar Sharma sees biometrics playing a key role in the bank’s strategy. “I think we have to learn that there is a wallet to account procedure which requires us to complete KYC (know your customer). We are targeting biometric KYC, digital KYC and Aadhaar-based KYC,” he said.
Aadhaar is a 12 digit individual identification number issued to citizens by the Indian government.
“I have a personal aspiration that Paytm Payment Bank should be India’s first and only payment bank where every person’s KYC is identified through biometrics. To build an infrastructure of that kind through the nooks and corners of the country is the kind of challenge we are looking at,” he said. Rollout will start in north east and central India.