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BEYOND PAYMENTS

Threatened by Walmart, WhatsApp, and UPI, Paytm is trying something new

A worker adjusts a hoarding of Paytm, a digital payments firm, in Ahmedabad
Reuters/Amit Dave
Survival of the fittest.
Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

India has been swept up in the global gold rush for financial technology startups. As the frenzy grows, Paytm, the country’s largest homegrown digital payments company, is in a pitched battle with international giants like Walmart (which runs a service called PhonePe) and Google.

Paytm’s story shows how the landscape has changed. When it was founded nine years ago, Paytm faced little competition. Mobikwik and a handful other local firms were its only rivals at the time.

Since then, executives and investors have woken up to the opportunity in the world’s second-most populated country, which is growing in wealth and smartphone penetration but has traditionally lacked adequate financial services. The chance to bring finance to the masses is a huge opportunity, as India’s digital payments sector is expected to grow from $200 billion in 2018 to $1 trillion in 2023.

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