Paytm’s annual loss doubles to $549M – gpgmail


Running a payments business in India is not cheap. Just ask Paytm . One of India’s largest payment companies reported a net loss of Rs 3959 crore ($549 million) for the financial year that ended in March, up 165% over 1490 crore ($206 million) in the same period last year.

During the same period, the company’s revenue rose to Rs 3232 crore ($448 million), compared to Rs 3052 crore ($423 million) in the year before. The firm’s debt also surged to Rs 695 crore ($96 million), One97 Communications, the parent firm of Paytm, told investors in its annual report.

One97 Communications also runs an e-commerce business, which recently raised money from eBay, and Paytm Money, that runs mutual funds business. On a consolidated basis, the 9-year-old firm reported an annual loss of Rs 4217.20 crore ($584 million), up from Rs 1604.34 crore ($222 million) from the year before.

Indian news outlet BloombergQuint first reported (paywalled) the financial performance of Paytm.

The loss should worry Paytm, whose CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said in a conference last week that the firm would begin to work on going public in the next 22 to 24 months. The level of competition that Paytm faces today is only about to increase in the coming future, and unlike earlier, the Indian firm is not facing off financially weaker local rivals.

Paytm, which has raised over $2 billion to date from a range of investors including SoftBank, Alibaba, and Berkshire Hathaway, continues to be the largest mobile wallet app provider in India, but increasingly users are moving to government-backed UPI payments infrastructure. In UPI land, Paytm competes with Flipkart’s PhonePe and Google Pay, both of which are heavily-backed.

As of July, both PhonePe and Google Pay commanded a bigger market share across UPI apps than Paytm.

Also in UPI land, you don’t make money on each transaction. So lately, every payments firm in India, including Paytm, has expanded it offering to include financial services such as a credit card, or loan, or insurance.

In many ways, this has created a level playing field for payment firms that did not dominate the wallet business.

In a statement, Paytm said it has been investing $1 billion per year for the last two years to “expand payments ecosystem in our country.” The company plans to invest a further $3 billion in the next two years.

“We believe India is at the inflection point of digital payments and Paytm’s sole focus is towards solving the merchant payments and offering them financial services. We will invest Rs 20,000 crore ($2.7 billion) in the next two years towards achieving this,” a company spokesperson said.

The biggest challenge for Paytm and other UPI payment apps has yet to emerge. Before the end of this year, WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users in India, plans to offer UPI payment option to all its years in the coming month.


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What top enterprise VCs are thinking, using data effectively, ethics, Light, and Flipkart – gpgmail


Top VCs on the changing landscape for enterprise startups

gpgmail had our debut confab for enterprise types this week at Yerba Buena Center in SF, where we heard from Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, Apple VP Susan Prescott of Apple, and Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich. We were sold out, which perhaps isn’t all that surprising given the amount of interest in enterprise these days. Expect more events to come.

Our Silicon Valley editor Connie Loizos hosted a panel with leading enterprise VCs, and she selected the most interesting points from that conversation and from her calls with them for Extra Crunch members. Hear a bit from Jason Green of Emergence Capital, Rebecca Lynn of Canvas Ventures and Maha Ibrahim of Canaan Partners and what they are investing in these days.

And if you want to hear even more from Jason Green and yours truly, head over to gpgmail’s VC podcast Equity, where we shot live from Yerba Buena along with host Kate Clark with a special focus on enterprise startups.

Maha Ibrahim: I feel like people are focusing too much on metrics and not as much on [the total addressable market]. We make money [when a startup strikes on a] huge, huge market.

But there’s [also] so much correlation between consumer and enterprise startups in that we want customers that love the product. We want customers that come back and come back and come back to us, without us having to pay for them to come back. So the equivalent in a consumer company would be me having to spend advertising dollars to acquire that customer again, as opposed to that customer just coming back because he or she loves what I’m doing. The same goes for the enterprise.

How early-stage startups can use data effectively

Silicon Valley may be obsessed with using data to improve startup outcomes, but the reality is quite a bit more nuanced. Koen Bok, co-founder of interactive design tool Framer, has put together an extensive guide here on how to to use data — and when not to.


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Why Walmart’s Flipkart is betting heavily on Hindi – gpgmail


To win India’s next 200 million internet users, e-commerce giant Flipkart wants to speak their language

Flipkart, the largest e-commerce platform in India, said Tuesday it has concluded the roll-out of a range of features to its shopping app in what is its biggest update in recent years.

Chief among these new features is access to Flipkart in Hindi language. Prior to the revamp of the app, Flipkart was available only in English, a language spoken by 10% of India’s 1.3 billion population.

Flipkart says it is hoping that the new features, which includes a video streaming service, would help it reach the next 200 million users in India.

The major bet on Hindi, a language spoken by more than 500 million people in India, illustrates a growing push from local and international companies operating in the country as they adapt their services and business models to go beyond the urban cities.

And that’s where much of the opportunity, which countless startups and companies have trumpeted to investors to successfully raise hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and venture capital in recent years, lies in the nation.


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India’s Indifi raises $20.4M to expand its online lending platform – gpgmail


Indifi, a Gurgaon-based startup that offers loans to small and medium-sized businesses and also operates an online lending marketplace, has raised 145 Indian rupees ($20.4 million) in a new financing round to expand its business in India.

The Series C round for the four-year-old startup was led by CDC Group, a UK-government-owned VC fund. Existing investors Accel, Elevar Equity, Omidyar Networks, and Flourish Ventures also participated in the round, the startup announced on Tuesday (Indian Standard Time).

Indifi, which has raised about $34 million in venture capital to date, has also used debt to grow and finance loans on its platform. Currently, it’s in about $21 million in debt, Alok Mittal, cofounder and managing director of Indifi, told gpgmail in an interview.

Indifi itself offers loans as well as serves as a marketplace for banks and non-banking financial companies to participate in funding loans to small and medium-sized enterprises, said Mittal. Both the businesses are equally growing and contributing to its bottom line, he said.

A typical loan processed by Indifi is of about $7,000 in size. Overall, the startup offers between $1,400 to  $70,000 to businesses.

Unlike banks and many other online lenders, Indifi works with an ecosystem of companies to assess risk factors before granting loan to a business, Mittal said. For instance, Indifi works with food-delivery startups Zomato and Swiggy and checks a restaurant’s past history, feedback from their customers before issuing a loan.

Similarly, if an enterprise from the travel industry were to look for a loan, Indifi checks the volatility of the market. Some of its other business partners include Oyo Rooms, MakeMyTrip, Flipkart, FirstData, Travel Booking, and Riya Travel.

“We chose to invest in Indifi because of its advanced data-driven approach that enables it to reach [thousands] of underserved customers across India. By reducing the high cost of risk assessment and customer acquisition, Indifi helps formal and informal businesses to access growth finance that otherwise may not receive it,” Srini Nagarajan, managing director and head of CDC Group’s Asia business, said in a statement.

Despite its longer background check process, Mittal said Indifi has been able to finance nearly 50% of all the applications it gets, compared to 10% deals that materialize with banks and other lenders, he claimed.

Indifi, which spent first year-and-a-half of its existence building relationships with major companies and refining its products, has amassed more than 15,000 customers to date, Mittal said. In last one year, its client base has grown by 2.5 times, he said.

The startup will use the fresh capital to find new clients and lending partners to expand its marketplace business, Mittal said. It will also explore lending to businesses in more sectors including logistics (so fleet-owners could also get loan).

Indifi competes with a handful of businesses including Bangalore-based Zest Money, Five Star Finance, Capital Float, and in some capacity, with Drip Capital, which recently raised $25 million.


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India’s Reliance to buy majority stake in Google-backed Fynd for $42.3M – gpgmail


Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries is acquiring 87.6% stake in Fynd, a seven-year-old Mumbai-based startup that connects brick and mortar retailers with online stores and consumers, for 2.95 billion Indian rupees ($42.33 million), the two said in a brief statement late Saturday.

Fynd, which was founded in 2012, helps offline retailers sell their products to consumers directly through its online store, and also enables them to connect with other “demand channels” such as third-party e-commerce platforms Amazon India and Walmart-owned Flipkart.

More than 600 brands including Nike, Raymond, Global Desi, and Being Human, and 9,000 stores are connected through Fynd’s platform, Harsh Shah, co-founder of Fynd, told gpgmail in an interview. Many brands also use Fynd’s products to ramp up sales on their own respective e-commerce businesses.

Since Fynd works directly with brands, it offers a wider selection of items and newer inventories to consumers, as well as faster delivery, Shah claimed.

Fynd’s website

Reliance Industries, the largest industrial house in the nation that owns the country’s biggest physical retail chain Reliance Retail, has been a customer of Fynd for more than six years, Shah said. “Reliance runs a few major brands in the country. 25 of our existing brands are owned by them. Our Find Store product has helped their stores plug a lot of sales,” he said.

Fynd, which counts Google as one of its early investors, will continue to operate its existing business and has an option to secure an additional 1 billion India rupees ($14 million) by end of 2021 from Reliance Industries, Shah said. He declined to reveal how much capital his startup had raised prior to this week’s announcement. According to Crunchbase, the amount was about $7.3 million.

“Reliance is taking the majority stake in Fynd, but at the end of the day, for us it is like any other investor coming in. We will still continue to work separately, we have our own independent roadmap, and we have own clients and products that we plan to grow. So things continue as it is,” he said.

Fynd, which takes a small commission on each transaction that occurs online, is already profitable on an operating level and expects to be fully profitable in the coming quarters, Shah said.

It will continue to build and scale its existing products, including OpenAPI that allows merchants to quickly list their products on either their own stores or third-party sites and manage their inventories and sales.

Despite tens of billions of dollars of investment in India’s e-commerce market in recent years by Amazon India and Flipkart, physical retail dominates much of the sales in the country. But e-commerce businesses are growing, too.

The nation’s e-commerce space is estimated to scale to $84 billion by 2021, up from $24 billion in 2017; compared to India’s overall retail market that is estimated to be worth $1.2 trillion by 2021, according to a recent study by Deloitte India and Retail Association of India.

Reliance Industries, run by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani (pictured above), additionally has its own plan to enter the e-commerce business in what could eventually become the biggest headache for Amazon since entering the nation more than six years ago. Earlier this year, Ambani announced that his telecom operator Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail are working on an e-commerce platform.

Reliance Jio, which began its commercial operations in the second half of 2016, recently became the nation’s biggest telecom operator with more than 331 million subscribers at the end of June.

Separately, Amazon.com is in talks with Reliance Industries to buy more than a quarter stake in Reliance Retail, a person familiar with the matter told gpgmail. News outlets Reuters and Economic Times were the first to report this development.


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