‘I want it all and I want it now’, says Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma as he plans a ticket to the US

A file photo of Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar SharmaBCCL
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma says “Jio is our God” despite the threat of competition from Mukesh Ambani’s company.
  • Sharma also revealed plans to take Paytm to the US market.
  • In India, the fintech platform is targeting to have 25 million merchants on board.
It’s not for nothing that when Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm, was introduced at the TiE India Internet Day event, he was called a “force of nature” by Vani Kola from Kalaari Capital, one of the country’s biggest venture capital firms.

VSS, as he’s referred to in India’s startup ecosystem, had a high-energy speech, anecdotes from his early days as an entrepreneur, and blunt remarks, which got everyone else talking too.

Business Insider caught up with Sharma to understand his strategy to battle the emerging threat to his business from Mukesh Ambani’s e-commerce venture under Jio.

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‘Jio is our God’

Reports about scores of losses suffered by Paytm Mall and the probability of it shutting down have been doing the rounds. When you ask Sharma about the same, he has a different answer – Paytm Mall is back on track.

“Paytm Mall is a business that has learnt that Online to Offline (O2O) is the best business model. Our attention on partners keeping items in warehouses has now significantly reduced and we have offloaded many partners. Our focus now is on shops – from where the shipments will happen. This model has worked out incredibly well for us. Year on year, we are up and have already cut one third of the costs,” said Sharma.

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But Indian e-commerce currently has the likes of Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon taking the larger portion of the pie, with both of them even wary about Reliance Jio’s reported entry in the space. Jio with its wide reach and ability to incur losses too, can be a bigger threat in e-commerce. So, where does that leave Paytm?

“Jio is our God,” said Sharma and laughed. “If the market has a business model that can survive competition, then it’s okay. I don’t know what their e-commerce model is but there is a good opportunity. India is such an underserved technology market. But I can say this for sure, Jio will be the last man standing. But does that mean we will have our play? Hopefully, we will,” said Sharma.

Ticket to the US

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For Indian startups, breaking boundaries and moving global has been the latest play. Startups like Oyo, Ola, Zomato are all expanding internationally and have found success too. Paytm too made the move to go global in October 2018, when it launched PayPay in Japan in partnership with Softbank.

PayPay works as a payment wallet where users can store their money for transactions. It had also launched operations in Canada which is still one of their focus markets. But it’s actually closer to Canada where lies the ultimate aim – The United States of America.

“The ambition is that what we have built in India goes to the rest of the world as well. Ultimately, America tops that list. In my life, I wish to take Paytm to US and fight the fight there. But that will be in the right time. The intention is clear – we want to ultimately become a business model which is called the Paytm Model and head to a few other countries before they replicate what we are doing,” he said.

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In India, Paytm plans to double down on their payments business and reach Tier-5 and Tier-6 cities. It is also targeting onboarding 25 million merchants by the end of the year. It currently has over 10 million merchants on its platform.

“India is a big market and we are expanding our financial services – insurance is also a sector we want to be in,” he said.

Paytm today has its footprint in almost every other industry – from payments to financial services to e-commerce and even the ticketing business. As Sharma, a Queen fan, put it-- “I want it all and I want it now.”

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See Also:
Paytm is competing with almost everyone in Indian e-commerce
Alibaba-backed Paytm gets greenlight from India's market regulator to launch stock broking services
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