Paytm one of the prominent beneficiaries of the government’s demonetisation drive a year ago, is allocating a $1-billion investment to ramp up its payments business as it looks to build a financial services platform, founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma told TOI. This does not include the company’s investment plans for its recently separated ecommerce entity , he said.As the regulations around digital wallets are slated to change with the recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines, Paytm will now allow users to transact without having to use its e-wallet and instead make payments using the BHIM UPI tech on its platform. The RBI recently put out new guidelines asking mobile wallet players to only have know your customer(KYC-) compliant users. According to analysts, most digital wallets have a relatively small base of KYC-complaint users. Paytm, which has the backing of Alibaba and SoftBank, will put the planned investment across the core businesses of transactions, travel, hotels and gold sales, among others. A big part of this investment would be focused on selling financial products and consumer credit.
Paytm is learnt to be in dis cussions with startups in the consumer credit space for an investment that could offer a plug-and-play arrangement to the Noida-based company . Paytm, run by One97 Communications, started as a payments platform only .
Sharma said they were looking at a three-pronged strategy to double the number of users in the coming year by converting Paytm users to its payments bank, tap into non-wallet users through UPI and sell financial products from next year. “Long ago, we realised that standalone payments as a business is an orphan and thus we are building a bouquet of products,” Sharma said.
Paytm recently launched a chat service on its platform that Sharma indicated is aimed at making payments further seamless. He said Paytm wants to be a one-stop avenue for transaction-related businesses, much like China’s WeChat. Having raised $1.4 billion from SoftBank earlier this year, the company has been making investments in its new businesses and making acquisitions at the same time.
It is in the final stages of investments in the areas of online grocery , deals and food delivery , among others. The company has been aggressive with its investments in products like selling movie tickets, travel, hotels and events, among others, to take on existing rivals.
Paytm, which claims to have a user base of over 250 million, has an active user base of 100 million users on a monthly basis. “We want to double our base of overall users and the base of monthly active users and UPI will play a significant role in the same. Customer acquisition is the top priority as we look to have 500 million users in another two years,” Sharma said.