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The face of digital wallets after demonetisation

The year Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation, Paytm and its founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma emerged as winners, with the company’s valuation rising from $5 billion in 2016 to $7 billion today.

htls Updated: Nov 16, 2017 07:25 IST
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, New Delhi
Demonetisation,note ban,Note ban policy
CEO and founder of Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, at his office, in Noida. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

Hours after digital payments platform Paytm won the Forbes India “Outstanding Start-up of the Year Award” on November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Modi announced the shock demonetisation of 85% of India’s cash in circulation.

In the year that followed, Paytm and its founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma have emerged as clear winners of the much-debated policy decision. Paytm’s valuation has risen from $5 billion in August 2016, to nearly $7 billion today, while Sharma and his investors have overseen the launch of the Paytm payment’s bank, in which he holds a 51% stake.

The past year, Sharma said in a recent interview, was the most fulfilling part of a journey that began in early 1990s when he first encountered the internet as a student at the Delhi College of Engineering. Since then, Sharma tweaked his business model every few years to keep pace with the dizzying pace of digital disruption: he built digital content management systems for newspapers in the late 1990s; mobile telephone directory services in the early 2000s, and value-added services for mobile phones right up to 2010, when the widespread adoption of the smart phone washed away all that had come before.

“People used to say that the data tsunami, the smart phone tsunami is coming, and will wipe away all feature-phone-led models,” Sharma told HT, “So my theory was in this tsunami we don’t want to be the one that gets killed, we want to be the one that rides that.”

First Published: Nov 16, 2017 07:22 IST