After becoming an almost household name in India, digital payments major Paytm has set its sight on dominating the Japanese market, a development that its founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma feels will be its “ticket” to the US — a “big country”. Speaking on the sidelines of TiE Global Summit, Sharma said, “dominance in Japan is very important. It’s a market that we believe, is at an inflection point because people have done lot of trials but led with card (credit/debit)…we believe we have a very high value proposition”.
In July, SoftBank Group Corp had announced launch of a digital payments service — PayPay — in Japan in a joint venture with Yahoo Japan Corporation, and had partnered Paytm for the service. The service, launched in October, allows users to store money from a bank account in their ‘PayPay’ wallet and aims to promote the use of cashless payment in Japan, which is heavily dependent on cash for payments. The current cashless payment ratio in Japan stood at 20 per cent. The Japanese government is taking measures to raise the cashless payment ratio to 40 per cent by 2025. “The initial traction (of the service) is so incredibly good, we are so pleasantly surprised.
If we kill it in Japan, we will get the ticket to go to the ‘big country’,” Sharma said. Asked what he considered as the ‘big country’, Sharma described himself as a person who wants to go to countries where Indian technology makes people “go wow”. “So (expansion to) South East Asia could happen but that’s not my personal ambition. My personal ambition will be to make America great again,” he said in his signature boisterous style. Sharma, however, declined to make any comments on the recent case where three persons, including two Paytm employees, were arrested for blackmailing and making extortion bid on Sharma. He said he didn’t wish to comment as the matter is sub-judice.
Alibaba and SoftBank-backed Paytm were among the biggest beneficiaries of the government’s demonetisation drive in 2016. After its mobile wallet became a household name, Paytm has entered the business of Payments Bank as well as e-commerce. Delivering the inaugural keynote at the third edition of the Summit, Sharma said: “The time for our country has finally arrived – there is no better place to start a company today. Today, it is easier to raise a billion dollars in India than anywhere else in the world”. Sharma said previously, young people were often hesitant in joining startups but today, the company is “recruiting people not just from top colleges, but from across the world”. – Financial Express