Within just six years of its launch, Vijay Shekhar Sharma has taken the e-payment platform Paytm to a level where only a few Indian companies have reached. The 39-year-old billionaire, with a net worth of over $1.7 billion, has now made it to the prestigious Forbes list of billionaires. The entrepreneur is also the only Indian billionaire under 40 who has made it to the rich list. That's not all. Sharma's Paytm - acronym for 'Payment Through Mobile' - has over 13,000 employees with 3 million offline merchants across India. "One of the biggest beneficiaries of India's demonetisation, Paytm has notched up 250 million registered users and 7 million transactions daily. Sharma owns 16 per cent of Paytm, which is now valued at $9.4 billion," Forbes said in a statement.
Initially started as an e-commerce and digital payment and recharge app, Paytm has now ventured into multiple platforms, including Paytm Mall, Paytm Bank, and Paytm Wallet, among others. The app acts as a one-stop destination for services ranging from banking, shopping, recharge, bill payment to digital payments.
Paytm's rise to fame
The company shot to fame after the Narendra Modi government announced a country-wide ban on the old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 in November 2016. As people were asked to deposit old notes in banks before a specific deadline, they faced a huge crunch of new currency notes despite the government's efforts. Paytm provided an easy solution to the problem by connecting people having smartphones with traders. Just a month after the demonetisation, Paytm was making around Rs 120 crore a day through digital payments and other services. Soon, other mobile wallets also picked up the pace but Paytm was way ahead in the race. In March 2017, Paytm also launched its services in Canada.
Funding from investment giants
Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and investment firm SAIF Partners had pumped in $200 million in Paytm's online marketplace unit in 2017. Now the company's subsidiary Paytm Mall is in talks with Japanese investment group SoftBank to raise Rs 3,000 crore. This is in addition to its talks with Singapore's Temasek Holdings and China's Primavera Capital Group to raise another Rs 1,000 crore. Once the SoftBank deal goes through, Paytm Mall is likely to be valued at Rs 13,000 crore, putting it in the 'unicorn' bracket or a billion dollar startup. With the valuation of $10 billion, Paytm is also the second most valuable internet firm in India after Flipkart, which has a valuation of $12 billion.
Mukesh Ambani named 19th richest man
The Forbes' billionaires list also includes industrialist Mukesh Ambani as the 19th richest man in the world. The world's billionaires list has total 2,208 names, out of which 119 are Indians. After adding 18 new names to the group, India came in third after China with 373 names and USA with 585 names. In the list, 63 individuals named are under the age of 40, while 34 are self-made entrepreneurs.
Ninety two-year-old Samprada Singh, Chairman Emeritus of Alkem Laboratories, is the oldest Indian billionaire named in the list. Singh has been ranked 1,867th on the list with a fortune of $1.2 billion. She founded Alkem Laboratories 45 years ago. Singh worked in a chemist's store before venturing out on her own distributing pharmaceuticals. "Shares of the generics maker, known for its antibiotics Clavam and Taxim, have more than doubled since its November 2016 IPO. For the year ended March 2017, Alkem reported a 20 per cent rise in net earnings to USD 139 million on revenues of USD 913 million," Forbes said.
With inputs from PTI
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