Seven years before, Paytm started as a prepaid mobile recharge website. Currently, its business is not only limited to recharge but has expanded as an online payment platform for many leading internet based companies.
In the year 2000, Vijay Shekhar Sharma started One97 Communications with a vision to build a powerful digital business across various sectors. In 2010, the company launched its flagship brand, Paytm with an aim of creating an online recharge portal.
In 2013, the company launched Paytm Wallet, which became India’s largest mobile payment service platform. In 2015, Indian industrialist Ratan Tata and Chinese Ecommerce company, Alibaba Group made investments in the firm. Also, Paytm received a license from Reserve Bank of India to start one of India’s first payments banks.
The Indian government’s demonetization move in late 2016 and emphasis on digital payments increased the investors’ interest in Paytm. In 2017, Japan’s leading Internet and telecom major Softbank invested $1.4 billion in Paytm.
Paytm leveraged the opportunity and quickly scaled up its media campaigns and infrastructure to meet the growing demands. It also accelerated the release of new features for consumers as well as merchants who wanted to accept Paytm.
Paytm’s focus was building scale with the recharge business, and marketing it primarily on Radio, and also online and at offline events.
Funding from Alibaba encouraged Paytm to extend its promotional activities through TV, print, and more visibly through sponsorship of the Indian Cricket Team and matches in India
As Paytm expanded its reach to millions of Indians, users across the country started posting pictures and videos on social media about their Paytm experience.
Even mainstream media started reporting on how customers and merchants were benefitting from the platform. Shopkeepers, vegetable sellers, petrol pumps, auto rickshaws, and even tea stalls embraced Paytm during the cash deficit days.
Once it got the wallet license from the RBI, the easiest way of retaining customers was to give cashbacks: it ensured that at least some of the users, for whom wallets were created, came back and used the money.
Cashbacks to a wallet ensured that the money was used on the same site, so at least Paytm got the promise of two transactions out of each transaction. Cashbacks on recharges – with millions recharging their mobile balance because of a simple interface and great product – ensured that millions of wallets would have been created.
The funny part about the evolution of Paytm is the number of times its logo has changed, with color tweaks, and the way edges have changed far too frequently, while it has gone from being PayTM to Paytm.
Paytm is on a mission to drive financial inclusion and to build India’s first $100 billion firm. It’s a company with its heart in the right place and working towards the goal of providing financial services to 100s of millions of unserved and under-served Indians.