PayTM could turn profitable this year, says founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Indian fintech giant PayTM may turn profitable this year as the pandemic fuels a surge in the use of its payment platforms, the company’s chief executive and founder told the Reuters Next conference.

Speaking at a panel on how technology can help tackle financial exclusion, Vijay Shekhar Sharma said the crisis had forced more merchants to use PayTM’s platforms as businesses were forced to accept digital payments.

“We could very well break even this year, we will start making money,” he said.

“I was surprised by the opportunity of monetisation in 2020 during the pandemic, not just by our wealth accounts but also by lending.”

PayTM, which began as a service for people to top up their mobile phones, offers a digital payment platform for merchants, money transfers and bill payments across India. Its lending businesses include credit cards, personal loans and merchant cash loans in partnership with other lenders.

Pressed on whether the company, which is backed by Chinese fintech giant Ant Financial and Japan’s Softbank, would soon look to list, Sharma said it would look at that when profitable but had no plans in the “short term”.

PayTM was valued at about $16 billion during a private fundraising round in 2019.

Cristina Junqueira, co-founder of Brazilian fintech Nubank, who was also on the panel, said the coronavirus crisis had led millions of people in Latin America’s biggest economy to turn to digital banking for the first time.

“A lot of the people that were most deeply impacted financially by the pandemic were also required to find ways to receive the government stimulus … they had to choose digital means,” she said.

Nubank is now looking to use a surge in deposits on its platform to start scaling up its lending business.

“As recovery approaches, there’s a lot of need to rebuild, and a lot of companies that went bust, and a lot of individuals in need of credit. We’re really hopeful that 2021 is a year we’re going to be able to maybe increase our exposure on the credit side tenfold,” Junqueira said.

Excluding credit cards, Nubank’s loan book stood at 332.7 million reais ($62.51 million) in the year to June 2020.

“We have so much more deposits than we can use in terms of funding, so we’re hoping to deploy a lot of that capital in 2021 and help stimulate economic development,” Junqueira said.

She added that when Nubank turns profitable would depend on how it paces expansion, but could be within 18 months. The company is in “no hurry” to list, she said.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.