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India Journalism Tech

India’s Paytm Secures $1 Billion Investment From SoftBank, Ant Financial

2019 11 26paytm

That’s the headline on my newest story, out yesterday. It begins:

NEW DELHI—The parent company of popular Indian mobile-payments startup Paytm said it has secured $1 billion in fresh funds from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and China’s Ant Financial Services Group, giving it more firepower in a fast-growing but crowded market.

The investment values the parent company, One97 Communications Ltd., at $16 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, making it one of Asia’s most valuable startups.

The Noida, India-based company makes a smartphone app that allows users to pay for goods and services such as groceries, auto rickshaw rides, movie tickets and electricity bills. It also has an e-commerce platform and offers financial products such as mutual funds and savings accounts.

The investment is a “reaffirmation of our commitment” to provide “new age financial services,” founder and Chief Executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma said in a statement Monday in India.

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Categories
India Journalism Tech

India’s Top Payments App Faces Challenge From Google and WhatsApp

That’s the headline of a story I did with my colleague Corinne Abrams, out Monday.

It begins:

India’s biggest mobile-payments startup, Paytm, has wooed hundreds of millions of users and attracted investment from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The biggest challenge for its charismatic founder, 40-year-old Vijay Shekhar Sharma, lies ahead: Keeping Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp at bay as they push into India, the world’s hottest new market for mobile money.

Paytm’s popular smartphone app, which can be used to pay for everything from auto-rickshaw rides to movies and utility bills, handles some 500 million transactions a month across its network. Paytm, launched in 2010 by Mr. Sharma’s One97 Communications Ltd., has dominated India’s payments space since late 2016. That is when Prime Minister Narendra Modi nullified India’s largest-denomination notes to curb corruption, triggering a cash crunch. Faced with long lines for ATMs, consumers flocked to the Paytm app.

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India Journalism

Mobile Money Heats Up in India as Google Doubles Down

That’s the headline of my most recent story, which came out yesterday. It begins:

NEW DELHI–Alphabet Inc.’s Google is raising its mobile-payments game in India with new functions and services as global players race to woo the nation’s legions of consumers who are skipping credit cards and transacting on smartphones instead.

A day after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said it had invested in the parent company of India’s largest digital-payments firm, called Paytm, Google said it is expanding its mobile money service in the South Asian nation. It is partnering with several local banks to offer consumer loans from within its app in the coming weeks, aiming to assist users seeking cash to cover expenses such as school fees.

Google is also expanding its tie-ups to more online merchants as well as to physical retail shops such as India’s ubiquitous mom and pop stores.

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Categories
India Journalism Tech

By Me Today: Google Wants a Piece of Mobile Payments in India

2017-09-18rupee

The story begins:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is aiming for a piece of India’s booming—but increasingly crowded—mobile-payments business.

The Mountain View, Calif., tech giant on Monday launched its first-ever smartphone app that lets users transfer money to individuals and businesses in the country without the use of a credit or a debit card, a crucial factor since many here lack plastic.

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So, to re-cap the state of play as people leapfrog from cash (over credit cards) to payments via smartphones here:

  • Paytm — which we profiled back in June — is the market leader, with more than 225 million users. There are other popular services here, as well, like Mobikwik.
  • WhatsApp, with 200 million users in India, is exploring a payments feature.
  • Hike, India’s biggest home grown app, added a payments feature a few months ago.

Watch this space.

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Journalism

New Story: Mobile Wallet Paytm Hits Pay Dirt Amid India’s Cash Crackdown

A new story out Wed., which I wrote with my colleague Corinne Abrams, begins:

MUMBAI—India’s second-most-valuable startup, the mobile-payments app Paytm, has a new target after proving itself more popular than credit cards.

“We’re competing with cash,” said Madhur Deora, Paytm’s chief financial officer. “In India, we’re not competing with cards.”

The company’s boast isn’t a stretch, given India’s crackdown on cash over the past six months has left citizens and merchants searching for cashless payment alternatives. Paytm has seized the opportunity and become the market leader through timely partnerships, simplifying the app’s process and dispatching an army of up to 10,000 trainers to reach out to the tiny shops that dominate the Indian economy.

The results have been impressive. Five million merchants in India accept payments using Paytm, five times the number that accept credit cards, Mr. Deora said. In addition, Paytm has 225 million mobile wallet customers, more than Snapchat’s 166 million daily active users world-wide and four times as many as rival mobile-payment competitors MobiKwik and FreeCharge, which each have 55 million users.

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