Paytm’s billion-dollar round showcases investors continue to see opportunities in serving the underbanked in markets like India.
“The very business model of acquiring customers and small businesses and bringing them to the formal financial system is viable and our investors understand that,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma told Business Standard. “India is underserved when it comes to financial services and this investment will be used to expand in that direction; our investors believe in that goal.”
He noted that Paytm is approaching “monetisation phase, where other financial services in due course will start bringing in revenue, so it becomes a story of a mature digital financial services company.”
Reuters reported the figure was about $1 billion, citing an unidentified person at the company. Even Softbank’s Vision Fund participated, at a time when Softbank has come under scrutiny after a $4.6 billion writedown for an investment in WeWork — as well as other writedowns for Uber and other companies.
Founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm has already brought 400 million Indians to mobile payments since launching in 2016, according to CNN.
With the latest funding, Patym is looking past its initial offerings to the consumer Internet and services such as lending, insurance, investments and “stockbroking to the masses,” as well as games, news and videos, according to the statement. The company is also eyeing the Japanese and U.S. markets, the CNN report said.
The system is straightforward: Customers present their phones to participating merchants, who then scan a barcode for payment. But with cash still used for 90% of the country’s financial transactions, there’s lots of room for growth. Paytm said Monday it will invest $1.4 billion over the next three years to add to its customer base.
- India is one of the big frontiers of electronic banking at a time when technology is revolutionizing capital markets around the globe. Plans for Facebook’s Libra currency and digital currencies from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo and others have caused central banks scramble to regulate the brave new world. Even China has advocated for Blockchain, the tool that underpins cryptocurrencies.
- Other existing shareholders that participated in the latest funding round included Ant Financial Services and Discovery Capital. Funds and investors advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. are new participants.