Paytm is an Indian e-commerce payment system and financial technology company, based in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Paytm is currently available in 11 Indian languages and offers online use-cases like mobile recharges, utility bill payments, travel, movies, and events bookings as well as in-store payments at grocery stores, fruits and vegetable shops, restaurants, parking, tolls, pharmacies and educational institutions with the Paytm QR code. California-based PayPal filed a case against Paytm in the Indian trademark office for using a logo with a similar color combination to its own on 18 November 2016. As of January 2018, Paytm is valued at $10 billion.
As per the company, over 7 million merchants across India use their QR code payment system to accept payments directly into their bank account. The company also uses advertisements and paid promotional content to generate revenues.
Paytm was founded in August 2010 with an initial investment of $2 million by its founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma in Noida, a region adjacent to India’s capital New Delhi. It started off as a prepaid mobile and DTH recharge platform, and later added data card, postpaid mobile and landline bill payments in 2013.
By January 2014, the company had launched the Paytm Wallet, which the Indian Railways and Uber added as a payment option. It launched into e-commerce with online deals and bus ticketing. In 2015, it unveiled more use-cases like education fees, metro recharges, electricity, gas, and water bill payments. It also started powering the payment gateway for Indian Railways.
In 2016, Paytm launched movies, events and amusement parks ticketing as well as flight ticket bookings and Paytm QR. Later that year, it launched rail bookings and gift cards.
Paytm’s registered user base grew from 11.8 million in August 2014 to 104 million in August 2015. Its travel business crossed $500 million in annualised GMV run rate, with 2 million tickets booked per month.
In 2017, Paytm became India’s first payment app to cross over 100 million app downloads. The same year, it launched Paytm Gold, a product that allowed users to buy as little as ₹1 of pure gold online. It also launched Paytm Payments Bank and ‘Inbox’, a messaging platform with in-chat payments among other products. By 2018, it started allowing merchants to accept Paytm, UPI and card payments directly into their bank accounts at 0% charge. It also launched the ‘Paytm for Business’ app which is now called Business with Paytm App, allowing merchants to track their payments and day-to-day settlements instantly. This led its merchant base to grow to more than 7 million by March 2018.
The company launched two new wealth management products – Paytm Gold Savings Plan and Gold Gifting to simplify long-term savings.
In January 2018, Paytm entered into a joint venture with Alibaba Group-owned gaming company AGTech Holdings to launch Gamepind, a mobile gaming platform. Gamepind was later rebranded as Paytm First Games in June 2019.
In March 2018, Paytm Money was setup with an investment of ₹9 crore to bring investment and wealth management products for Indians.
In March 2019, Paytm launched a subscription based loyalty program called Paytm First.
In May 2019, Paytm partnered with Citibank to launch Paytm First credit card 
In July 2020, Tata Starbucks partnered with Paytm allowing its customers to order food online during a coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Funding and share holding
In October 2011, Sapphire Ventures (fka SAP Ventures) invested $10 million in One97 Communications Ltd.
In March 2015, Paytm received its huge stake from Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, after Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba Group affiliate, took 40% stock in Paytm as part of a strategic agreement. Soon after, it received backing from Ratan Tata, the MD of Tata Sons.
In August 2016, Paytm raised funding from Mountain Capital, one of Taiwan-based MediaTek’s investment funds at a valuation of over $5 billion.
In May 2017, Paytm received its biggest round of stake by a single investor – SoftBank, thus bringing the company’s valuation to an estimated $10 billion. In August 2018, Berkshire Hathaway invested $356 million for 3%- 4% stake in Paytm, although Berkshire Hathaway confirmed that Warren Buffett was not involved in the transaction.
On 25 November 2019, Paytm raised $1 billion in a funding round led by US asset manager T Rowe Price along with existing investors Ant Financial and SoftBank Vision Fund.
Investments and acquisitions
In 2013, Paytm acquired Plustxt for under $2 million. Plustxt was started by IT graduates Pratyush Prasanna, Parag Arora, Lokesh Chauhan and Lohit V that allowed fast text messaging in any Indian Language.
In 2015, Paytm invested $5 million in auto-rickshaw aggregator and hyperlocal delivery firm Jugnoo. The funds were meant to enable Jugnoo to scale up its operations across the country, and improve its driver efficiency. It also acquired Delhi-based consumer behaviour prediction platform Shifu and local services startup Near.in.
In 2016, Paytm invested in logistics startups LogiNext and XpressBees.
In April 2017, Paytm invested in healthcare startup QorQL which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to help doctors improve their productivity and quality of care, and enable patients to manage their health better. In July 2017, it acquired a majority stake in online ticketing and events platform Insider.in, backed by event management company Only Much Louder (OML) and mobile loyalty startup MobiQuest. The same year, Paytm acquired Little & Nearbuy, and merged both.
In June 2018, the company acquired the startup Cube26.
In July 2015, One97 Communications, the firm that owns the brand Paytm, acquired the title sponsorship rights for India’s domestic and international cricket matches at home for a period of four years starting in August 2015. The rights include sponsor branding of series with the title sponsor logo, designation as the title sponsor of the series, visibility at the stadium, and broadcast sponsorship rights. This also includes all BCCI domestic (Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, etc.) matches in India.
Previously, Paytm had acquired sponsorship rights during the 8th season of Indian Premier League. It has also served as an associate sponsor on Sony TV network (which has the telecast rights for IPL) and was the official partner of the IPL team Mumbai Indians. In March 2018, Paytm became the Umpire Partner of the IPL for five years.
Paytm Payments Bank
In August 2015, Paytm received a license from Reserve Bank of India to launch the payments bank. The Paytm Payments Bank is a separate entity in which founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma will hold 51% share, One97 Communications holds 39% and 10% will be held by a subsidiary of One97 and Sharma. The bank was officially inaugurated in November 2017 by the Indian Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley.
It was set to launch over 100,000 banking outlets across India by the end of 2018. However, the bank’s branches are yet to touch double digits.
Paytm Payments Bank has appointed veteran banker Satish Kumar Gupta as its new Managing Director and CEO.
In February 2017, Paytm launched its Paytm Mall app, which allows consumers to shop from 1.4 lakh registered sellers. Paytm Mall is a B2C model inspired by China’s largest B2C retail platform TMall. Sellers have to pass through Paytm-certified warehouses and channels to ensure consumer trust. Paytm Mall has set up 17 fulfillment centers across India and partnered with more than 40 couriers. Paytm Mall raised $200 million from Alibaba Group and SAIF Partners in March 2018. In May 2018, it posted a loss of approximately Rs 1,800 crore with a revenue of Rs 774 crore for financial year 2018. Additionally, the market share of Paytm Mall dropped to 3 percent in 2018 from 5.6 percent in 2017.
In May 2018, the Indian investigative news agency Cobrapost released a video of an undercover reporter meeting with Paytm’s vice president, Ajay Shekhar Sharma who is the brother of Vijay Shekhar Sharma. During the meeting, he reportedly said the company had provided the Indian government with the personal data of Paytm users in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, violating user’s privacy and policies. Later, Buzzfeed reported that, Sharma has close ties with India’s ruling party Bhartiya Janata Party. Meanwhile, in response, the company tweeted that, it had never shared user’s data with third parties, denied the contents in the video, and stated that it had never received requests from law enforcement on Twitter. Paytm also stated that any person claiming otherwise “is not aware of the policy and is not authorised to speak on behalf of the company”.
Paytm has alleged that telecom companies are not blocking numbers used for phishing activities and sued them for ₹100 crore in damages in the Delhi High Court.
On 18 September 2020, Paytm’s official app was briefly unlisted from the Google Play Store allegedly due to violations of the Play Store’s gambling policy. Paytm likened the sudden removal of its app to ‘arm-twisting’ by Google. The company claimed that Google did not offer any prior warning or give the company an opportunity to explain its views on the contentious ‘cashback’ offers while claiming that Google’s own payments app Google Pay offered similar ‘cashback’ offers and suffered no repercussions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in India, Paytm decided to contribute ₹10 to every single user who pays to the PM CARES fund via their app. It aims to donate ₹500 crore, and within ten days they have collected ₹100 crore in their app. Their 1,200 employees have contributed their 15 days or even a few months of their salaries to the fund.
Awards and recognition
- Outstanding Startup of the Year Award at ForbesLeadership Awards 2016
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Ofer Abarbanel is a 25 year securities lending broker and expert who has advised many Israeli regulators, among them the Israel Tax Authority, with respect to stock loans, repurchase agreements and credit derivatives. Founder TBIL.co STATX Fund.