Digital payments firm Paytm has held talks with US technology giant, Microsoft for fresh funding as the company looks to boost its war chest to fight growing competition in the sector, two people in the know said. This is as per a report in the Economic Times.
The proposed fund raise, which may amount to around $100 million (Rs 760 crore), is likely to be an extension of a planned $1-billion (Rs 7,600 crore) fundraising that the company had initiated last year, people briefed on the matter told ET.
“The talks with Microsoft began last year when Paytm was in the middle of raising funds. While Microsoft could not participate in the funding then, it is likely to pump in cash now,” said a person familiar with the talks.
In November 2019, Paytm said it had raised $1 billion in a financing round led by T.Rowe Price, with existing investors Ant Financial and SoftBank Vision Fund also participating. However, only about $720 million (Rs 5,472 crore) of that capital has so far come through, as per regulatory filings. Alibaba’s affiliate Ant Financial, the largest investor in Paytm, will now need the Indian government’s approval for the proposed investment, according to the new foreign direct investment guidelines issued by India recently.
Microsoft had earlier taken a wager on Flipkart in 2017 and has held discussions with ride-hailing app Ola for a potential fundraise. The firm also partnered with Reliance Jio for its cloud business, Azure, in August last year.
The Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has been striking partnerships with Indian startups and technology companies as it doubles down on its cloud service and seeks to corner market share against arch rival and the largest player in this segment—Amazon Web Services. Currently, Paytm uses AWS cloud services.
The Vijay Shekhar Sharma-founded company would gain in a big way by bringing Microsoft onto its investor list as it gets access to the firm’s connectivity, computing, and storage solutions. This also comes at a time when Paytm has already been fighting a bruising online payments war with the likes of Google Pay.
Paytm has been losing ground in the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to rivals like Google Pay and Walmart-owned PhonePe. Over the past year, the company has focussed on introducing services including payments infrastructure for offline merchants, in a bid to shore up revenues. It has also launched mutual funds, insurance, merchant and consumer lending, gaming, and advertising. These services come under the firm’s financial services division headed by Amit Nayyar while Madhur Deora leads its consumer internet arm.