Indian digital payments startup Paytm has raised a massive $1.4 billion round funded exclusively by Japanese giant Softbank Group Corp.
The deal includes Softbank purchasing $400 million in shares from SAIF Partners, an early investor in the company, along with shares from company founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma. According to reports, the round was raised at a valuation of $7 billion.
Founded in 2010, Paytm, owned by One97 Communications Ltd., is India’s largest mobile payments and commerce platform, offering a wide range of services, including online mobile recharging, bill payments, online bookings, an Amazon.com Inc.-like e-commerce store and more. The company claims to have more than 220 million registered users, just under 50 percent of all Internet users in India.
Softbank joins Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. as a major investor in the company. Other shareholders include Taiwanese semiconductor firm MediaTek Inc., Reliance Capital, SVB and SAP Ventures. The last three sold their combined 4.3 percent holding to Alibaba in March.
The round, a huge vote of confidence in India’s burgeoning financial technology, follows on the heels of local e-commerce powerhouse Flipkart Ltd. raising $1.4 billion in April from Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.
According to Statista Inc., the Indian fintech market is expected to total $44 billion in 2017 with an annual growth rate of 20 percent in the coming years producing a $91 billion market in 2021. Much of that growth is thanks to a rapidly growing middle class in India as a result of the country dropping socialism and adopting free-market reforms in the 1990s. That embrace has seen a remarkable change in fortunes for the world’s second-largest country by population count, with the country’s middle class, the core of its Internet users, expected to grow to 475 million by 2030.
With rapidly growing discretionary incomes, it’s understandable why India’s fintech industry is gaining interest from outside its borders. As the country’s largest fintech operator in the space, Paytm looks to be in the right place.