Why India's Paytm is turning its mobile wallet into a media app

Register now

Paytm, one of India’s most widely used mobile wallets, has added TV and games in an effort to keep users' eyes on its app as long as possible.

It's the latest sign that Paytm's success comes not just from payments, but from its ability to transform its app into a larger marketplace. And just like Amazon offers streaming TV and movies to keep users paying for Prime memberships, Paytm is adding media to make its ecosystem as compelling as possible.

The transformation is also a sign of the influence of the massive Chinese online marketplace Alibaba, which is an investor in Paytm. Alibaba's payments affiliate, Ant Financial, operates the Alipay wallet.

According to The Times of India, the platform aims to further strengthen Paytm’s relationship with its customers. The company will continue to offer services that will encouraging everyday usage.

In China, mobile payment apps like AliPay and WeChat Pay are thriving in part to their integration into people’s lifestyle. Alipay users in China can hail taxis, message friends and family or even look up restaurants.

“Alipay is looking to help Paytm develop a marketplace where customers come to it for pretty much everything — including payments,” said Zilvinas Bareisis, a senior analyst at Celent.

There is a particular niche in India for integrated mobile payment technology. In November, 2016 India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled 86% of the country’s total currency from circulation to boost digital payments and cut down on counterfeiting. Paytm was one of the companies that stood to benefit most from this action.

However, Paytm is not the only game in town, Bareisis said. It has competition in Google Pay, Apple Pay and Facebook's WhatsApp, to name a few.

The U.S. has seen a similar trend of payment apps blending with other mobile services. PayPal's Venmo can attribute much of its success to its design echoing that of a social media app; and Facebook and Apple are embedding P2P payments into their messaging apps rather than marketing them as standalone financial products.

Paytm did not immediately return a request for comment.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Mobile wallets Paytm Ant Group India China