Having spent $600m in a matter of months, Paytm is burning through cash in the hope of clinging on to its share of the world’s fastest-growing cashless payments market as rivals such as Amazon Pay, Flipkart’s PhonePe and Google Pay, all try to capitalise on the country’s 800m mobile phone users.
“Paytm is stuck between a glorious past that was built on the back of digital payments and a future that doesn’t look anything like Jack Ma’s Alibaba,” wrote business journalist Ashish Mishra in an essay entitled “Paytm is Stuck”. Some have argued that Paytm missed a key opportunity in not getting in ahead of the government and creating its own mini-UPI, which could have allowed it to develop the infrastructure underpinning the country’s payments system. “What Paytm didn’t do right was to change [its] e-wallet business into UPI,” said the chief executive of an Asian start-up with a large financial services business, speaking on the basis of anonymity. “The company had this notion it could compete with UPI . . . and then PhonePe and Google Pay stormed the market.