Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which has acquired a Rs 2,500 crore ($356 million) stake in One97 Communications, the parent of Paytm, wants the Indian digital payments firm to build a $100-billion business.
Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma believes that Berkshire Hathaway’s first direct investment in an Indian company "signifies the coming of age of Indian startups and entrepreneurs who are poised to build the next set of large tech enterprises and take them global," The Times of India reported.
“They think it is great to see a payments network being built on the mobile as it expands into financial services. Todd (Combs) had written to me and said he wants to see a $100-billion payments company which serves a large number of Indians," Sharma was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Berkshire Hathaway’s investment is a major endorsement for Paytm that has grown to become India’s leading digital payments platform in just eight years.
For Berkshire, which is under pressure to find investments and whittle down a $108.6 billion stockpile of cash, this marks a rare shift in strategy. The CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett has traditionally invested in consumer, energy and insurance companies.
The foray into India’s ultra-competitive digital payments space is not without risks. The market is expected to grow five-fold to $1 trillion by 2023, but rivalry is intense, with several players - including the state-backed Unified Payment Interface (UPI), in the fray.
Unlike digital wallets, which do not earn users any interest, UPI apps simplify interbank transfers, making it a preferred option for some.
Paytm and other mobile wallet companies have been forced to offer more services to retain customers.
Google earlier rebranded its Tez app as Google Pay, adding that it was teaming up with four Indian banks, including HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank, to offer instant, pre-approved digital loans to customers.
With inputs from Reuters
Updated Date: Aug 29, 2018 20:19 PM