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2015-03-16

We will invest to make SME business grow: Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder, Paytm

We have surpassed our target and registered a turnover of Rs 4,500 crore in the current financial year.

Paytm has kept things simple for consumers and has maintained a customer-centric approach to make a place for itself in the potential market. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder, One97 Communication Ltd, talks to Entrepreneur about its recent business deal with Alibaba Group’s financial arm, Alipay, and how he will use the fresh funds in expanding Paytm services in the country.

You recently said that your company would cross 2,000-crore turnover. What is your strategy to achieve this?

I remember saying that we would achieve Rs 2,000 crore this year. But the fact is we have surpassed our target and registered a turnover of Rs 4,500 crore ($750 million) in current financial year. We have actually doubled the company’s turnover. The reason for such stupendous growth is our customer-centric approach. We took a holistic approach to satisfy our customers. We have sincerely focused on our target market and gained customer attention.

What is the USP of Paytm?

It is necessary to keep things simple and not confuse customers. We are always bothered about each and every customer’s experience. We try to help every customer with what they are expecting from us. We ensure taking necessary care of customers. In fact, we kept on increasing the team size according to the growth we were registering. So, we have implemented the necessary technology and customer care to meet the parameters. Our focus on customer care kept us going.

What changes are you observing in your business nowadays?

There is a rise in the number of customers coming to our platform. Every month, we are getting around 25 million orders, which is a huge opportunity for us. Currently, we are also trying to bring merchants to our platform. Today, there are not enough catalogues available in the market. Everybody is selling products through e-marketplace at discounted rates. In this way, sellers are growing their gross merchandise value.

Recently, Alibaba Group’s financial arm Alipay has bought 25 per cent stake in your company. How much is the deal worth and how are you going to utilise the fund?

I cannot disclose the worth of the deal. The amount mainly will be used in bringing merchants to our platform. We will be investing at least $100 million in this regard. We believe that if we can facilitate 100 million SMEs to grow, it will be of great help. We want to solve SMEs’ problems in payments, catalogues, logistics and marketing. We will invest to make SME business grow.

Who will be there in your board of advisors from Alibaba?

From Alibaba, Sabrina Pang and Eric Jhan are expected to be the Board Advisors. One of them is part of the payment business and other is a part of the international commerce business.

You have recently applied for payment bank license from the Reserve Bank India. What is its status?

We did not get any response from the RBI after giving our proposal for opening payment bank in India. We are waiting for that. We have applied for the same on 2 February 2015. India has half million consumers that is not touched by the mainstream banks. We want these half million people should avail the banking services through the payment bank services.

How do you observe the growth in India’s payment market? What needs to change now?

Earlier e-commerce was cash-on-delivery driven, but now it is payment-driven. We are enhancing our payment wallets. We brought on our platform vendors, such as Makemytrip and Bookmyshow. We will bring many more merchants. Consumers are using our platform for easy payment facility.

Do entrepreneurs face difficulty in availing bank financing as compared to VC funding?

The venture capitalists require a business model on which they will provide the fund. On the other hand, banks want to see the history and credit ratings of merchants for sanctioning loans. We do face difficulty in availing loans from banks.

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