Alibaba’s Indian bet Paytm enters healthcare space in diversification efforts

Paytm also expanded its offering in ed-tech space with education loans and educations specific insurance products.

Source: Unsplash Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

Indian fintech unicorn Paytm will soon extend its digital payment service into the healthtech sector as part of its latest expansion efforts, following a recent move that saw the company spin off its online shopping unit Paytm Mall amidst restructuring.

The new service will allow doctors to accept consultation fee and pay for bulk medical purchases using its platform, through the use of QR codes.

Doctors in India work with multiple hospitals and according to Paytm’s founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, “there is no reconciliation method for all the payments” from different hospitals. With its new set of QR codes that can be used at multiple places, Paytm is aiming to solve this “complexity involved in handling such payments.”

In an interaction with local newspaper Mint, Sharma said the company will create a new payment category for doctors and bring “the simplest of QR codes, which are replaceable and usable at multiple places.”

Earlier this month the company launched ‘bulk payment’ feature for businesses to pay for their wholesale purchases allowing merchants to transfer money to multiple bank accounts.

“These doctors also want to use this money digitally. We will launch tools to help them do that. Last week, we launched wholesale debits so they (doctors) can make bulk payments using the same Paytm,” Sharma said.

In 2017, Paytm invested an undisclosed amount of money in a health-tech startup QorQl that connects patients and doctors on its platform. However, Sharma said his endeavor to get into healthcare payment doesn’t include veering into this model as it is “yet to take off in India.”

“Our focus has been clinically high frequency, which includes top-ups, grocery stores, and milk shops such as Mother Dairy. That was the first focus. Then came the large-ticket focus. So, we got into education, which is a large ticket, not high frequency; and now, doctors,” said Sharma.

Valued at USD 15 billion, and one of the most important portfolio companies in India for Alibaba, Paytm has long been wanting to become India’s super-app—a one-stop platform for consumers’ all needs. Started as a payments company in 2010, Paytm has now expanded into wealth management, digital insurance, travel ticket booking, food-delivery, online gaming, e-commerce, utility bill payments, among others.

Last month, in a bid to widen its customer base, it expanded its educational offering that was limited to career counseling, school and college fee payments, to providing job applications, educational loan, and insurance products.

Paytm claims to have 14 million merchants who use its platform for various services recording 800-900 transactions a month. It wants to increase the merchant base to 24 million by the end of this fiscal year.

It has already lost its dominant position in payments space as more and more players such as Google, Amazon, and WhatsApp entered this 66 billion dollars market. According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, Google Pay led the UPI-based digital payment at 36%, followed by Flipkart-backed PhonePe at 29%, Paytm at 25%, and other banks and payments instruments at 10%.