Paytm chief plays down competition threat - Mobile World Live

Paytm chief plays down competition threat

12 SEP 2018

Indian payments provider Paytm is confident increased competition in the country will not interrupt its ambitious growth plans, founder Vijay Sharma told Reuters.

The company, which is backed by high-profile players Alibaba and SoftBank, has seen the importance of digital payments in the country grow after India imposed a ban on high-value currency notes in late 2016.

However, with a bigger market has come greater competition in the form of the entrance of Google Pay and an expected launch of digital payments by Facebook’s WhatsApp.

Sharma believes there is room for an ecosystem of players: “If you have a standalone payments company, you definitely have an opportunity in the market.”

“But there is a bigger game being played in the ecosystem level”, where revenue is generated out of the value created by such services.

Indeed, Paytm has grown its operations since being established in 2010, embarking on banking plays, mutual funds and insurance. Reuters said Sharma also started an e-commerce venture, with payments handled by Paytm.

The company has around 95 million monthly active users, which are growing by up to 6 per cent per month: it aims to reach 500 million users by 2022, said Sharma.

It is also targeting an increase in the number of its offline merchants to 15 million by March 2019, from 6 million today. The model relies on increasing its customer base and then spurring more merchants to join, igniting usage.

A state-backed open platform, the Unified Payment Interface also allows people to send money to each other through bank accounts by linking numbers. The platform has been seized on by digital payment providers to add and retain users.

Finance
Along with SoftBank and Alibaba, US-based investment giant Berkshire Hathaway also joined as an investor in Paytm, pumping $356 million into the mobile wallet provider’s parent company One97 Communications last month.

Sharma added that he did not believe Paytm needed to raise more funds, at least for the next three years.

Despite Sharma’s bullishness, One97 reported an 80 per cent increase in losses in its 2018 annual report, amounting to INR16 billion ($222 million). Indian publication Business Standard said the loss was down to expansion plans for its payments bank, online marketplace Paytm Mall, and a new mutual fund business.

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Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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