Market leader in the mobile payment sector, Paytm will launch the next big thing in the financial markets soon and work is on at breakneck speed. ‘Project Pokhran’, the internal code name for the Payment Bank project is nearly complete. With a team of 20-25 people at present, key positions are also being filled at a fast pace with the appointments of ITC executive Varun Khullar and Amazon India’s Vikas Purohit as heads of partnerships for its Payments bank. The company aims to recruit 3,000 people for the business and has also enlisted the services of management consulting majors, Ernst & Young and McKinsey & Co to help in the rollout. The Payments bank that will most likely be called, Paytm Payments Bank, will be launched by the end of 2016.
“Payment is one event of a consumer relationship and we can grow this through the deposits,” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm.
He added that for the initial capitalisation, as per the regulations set by the RBI, Rs.150 cr is required, which they have on the deck already. So the money is in place too.
Talking about further plans, he said that they will focus on other financial services after this project is completed, which will take another 2 years for finalisation. However, the areas of interest include insurance and consumer finance. So the days are not far when we will sort our mutual funds and insurance problems with Paytm.
A place where other players are struggling, Paytm is already in the process of establishing a user base of 100 million. What is the secret of the business?
Vijay said with pride that their business is always unique. For example, though they have entered the ecommerce market, they are 100% third party players and they like to think of themselves as “a mall while others are sellers”. “What people fail to realise is that my idea was never to be just a mobile wallet or just an ecommerce player. I gain consumers at just around $0.50 and the returns to the business from each of these consumers is in several hundreds of thousands,” said the maverick startup founder.
He doesn’t fail to acknowledge the contribution of the current government. Paytm’s businesses are also fuelled by the startup culture that the government is fully supporting in India.
“This is a celebration of start-ups in the country. Startups are growing means new ideas are emerging. And those economies who have led to the growth of new ideas, have flourished. I wish that billions of dollars are raised by start-ups and every one of them are successful,” said Vijay about the startup boom.
But one might not forget that the same government is making a lot of noise about the FDI rules and e-commerce platforms flouting them.
“This is vote bank politics for politicians,” he stated his opinion strongly.
Interestingly, while others are expanding globally at a fast rate, Vijay thinks India should have something to boast of and Paytm is the reason. He wants to keep Paytm an Indian unique product, said the proud Indian.
When asked if the fact that Alibaba invests in his rival Snapdeal too bothers him, his answer only reflects his clarity of thoughts which few manage to achieve in such a competitive world, “It doesn’t matter at all.”