How Paytm went big on Indian demonetization

Thursday, November 30, 2017

It is a year since Indian prime minister Narendra Modi turned his country’s transactional finances upside down with his demonetization programme. The dust has now settled.

People will argue for years about the pros and cons of what he did, but there is near universal agreement on the company that did best out of the whole thing.

Paytm was already big news before Modi’s demonetization shock last November 8, when he withdrew all the Rp500 and Rp1,000 banknotes from circulation to curb corruption and the black economy, he said, apparently without warning anyone in the banking sector that he was about to do so.

The rags-to-riches story of Paytm’s founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who not so long ago would walk 20 kilometres across Delhi because if he paid for an auto-rickshaw he would not have enough money for dinner, and who was flat broke as recently as 2003, was by then already well-rehearsed in Indian media. The journey of his company from a prepaid mobile webcharge website in 2010 to an Alibaba and Ant Financial-funded juggernaut that is the largest mobile payment service platform in India was well underway.

Photo courtesy of Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion.

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digital payments, financial inclusion, fintech