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Alibaba-backed Paytm keeps USD 70 million in wallet to invest in AI startups

Paytm typically invests USD 28 million to 35 million every year in acquiring or investing in technology companies.

Image credit: Avanish Tiwary

Indian digital payment giant Paytm said Monday it has set aside INR 500 crore (USD 70 million) to invest in early-stage companies capable of building technologies that could work in sync with the country’s booming digital ecosystem.

Specifically, it is looking for artificial intelligence-based technology companies which use big data to create solutions for problems that are India-specific, such as startups “supports India-first business solutions that are scalable and have the potential to generate large scale employment,” Paytm said in a statement.

It says it typically invests INR 200 to 250 crore (USD 28 million to 35 million) every year in IPs (intellectual properties) or companies that build complementary technologies.

Vikas Garg, deputy CFO at Paytm, said that his company “partners with startups who have capabilities that augment the digital ecosystem for the next wave of growth. These investments are also an indication that Paytm believes India’s entrepreneur ecosystem is innovative and is growing well.”

In July 2017 Paytm acquired online events ticketing platform Insider, and five months later acquired two companies Nearbuy and Little that focused on restaurant deals. Last year it invested USD 16 million in Gamepind Entertainment, a mobile gaming company that is now also available on Paytm’s app, while in August this year it put in USD 2.2 million in Bengaluru-based food catering company Hungerbox.

Paytm said it has also invested in other companies such as Loginext, Ticket New, Nightstay, QRQL, and RecruiterGrid. All these investments are its efforts to be a one-stop shop for its users and be a super-app.

Paytm already operates its own e-commerce marketplace Paytm Mall, has a wealth management platform through which it sells mutual funds and insurance, sells travel and event tickets, apart from many other utility bill payment services.

While Paytm’s losses for financial year 2018-2019 widened by almost three-times to USD 590 million, its founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma said it’s looking at an IPO by 2021 once it starts earning cash.