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From Movie Ticketing To Increasing Offline Presence, Paytm's 3 Major Announcements Here's an outline of what Paytm has been and will be up to.

By Ritu Kochar

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"We will be present offline in every nook and corner," said Vijay Shekhar Sharma stating his plans, and the CEO of Paytm seem to be leaving no stone unturned in fulfilling it.

Digital wallet and e-commerce firm, Paytm has been in the news for the past few weeks and for all the right reasons. The previous year proved to be great success for Paytm and now that they are expanding at a fantastic rate, they have some good plans in store.

Here's an outline of what Paytm has been up to.

Bringing 4 million merchants on Paytm's platform

Paytm is all set to boost its offline business by expanding its range to 4 million new merchants through hyper local and "kirana' stores. "Our offline payments will become as big as our online payments," said Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

Paytm's offline merchant network includes small 'paan' shops, vegetable vendors and big retail outlets such as Aditya Birla Group's food and grocery retail arm More, Indian Oil petrol pumps, food chains such as Cafe Coffee Day and Pizza Hut, and several schools and colleges (ET).

Paytm gives these merchants a sticker with a personalised code, which can be put near the cash counter. Customers with Paytm accounts can then scan the code from their mobile. Efforts have also been made to train these offline merchants to become cash collection agents for its payments bank to acquire customers and recharge Paytm wallets.

Amit Sinha, vice-president of Paytm said, "As Paytm continues growth in tier 2-3 town, we want to enable our unbanked and underbank customers to enable them to add money to their Paytm wallets through physical add cash points, bank network and ATM."

Coping up with the technological advancements can get a little harder for these offline merchants who spend much of their time working. By going to these merchants and adding them on their platform, these merchants will automatically increase their customers, which in turn will increase user base for Paytm. Also, consumers who are still a bit unreliable with online shopping will feel more comfortable in buying products from their local stores, very conveniently delivered to their houses.

Enabling connectivity in no connectivity zone

For the past one year, Paytm has been working extensively on building an offline mode of payment. After it received its payment bank license from the Reserve Bank of India in August last year, Paytm launched its offline product around three months ago. It claims to be doing 3.5 million transactions per month through this model.

The decision to use this model was reached after experimenting with QR codes, one-time password and even sound-based payment. The reason why Paytm has been so interested in offline payment network is that it will expand Paytm's area of coverage to zones where regular connectivity is a challenge especially in the rural areas, flight, trains and so on.

The model, however, is not entirely offline. Payment products head at Paytm, Nitin Mishra said explaining that while the solution is not a completely offline way to pay, it will make sure that loss of connectivity doesn't become a handicap while paying through Paytm. The app will regularly save customer details such as balance in account in the background and use that information to close the transaction if either or both of the parties experience loss of connectivity. "The moment one party or both come online, the account balance as well as the transaction details will be automatically synched," said Misra.

Addressing the problem of unavailability of Internet outside, Paytm will definitely benefit from this model by expanding its network to make payments possible at most offline outlets. This not only solves the connectivity issue but also increases Paytm's consumers who look for non-cash payments while travelling or when they have no Internet service.

Tie ups with PVR, INOX and other cinema houses

Taking care of all your needs, Paytm will now be selling movie tickets on its platform. The company is targeting PVR's network of 370 screens in 75 multiplexes across 33 cities while Adlabs-owned Imagica and Aquamagica in Mumbai are already on the platform.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma told ET in an interview that the idea is to create a marketplace for entertainment tickets with deals and offers for customers. "All the cinema chains can become sellers on the platform and can experiment with various pricing options and deals," he said. For instance, a multiplex can choose to bundle free popcorn or valet parking with a movie ticket for a weekday afternoon show or offer discounted tickets for a theatre at a remote location.

"So much is possible in terms of choice and offers for customers when cinemas become sellers themselves instead of a situation currently where they are just sharing their inventory with a third party ," said Sharma. Using the offline service of Paytm, users can also pay for food and other value-added services through their mobile wallet once they reach the movie hall.

Bookmshow has been leading this domain with its reach to all big multiplexes in the country. But now, with Paytm's new service, Bookmyshow will be facing grave competition with Paytm's plan to provide great deals like cashbacks and discounts The app for the service will soon follow. According to Vijay, there should be no conflict with BookMyShow as it can also become a seller on the platform.

The Noida-based startup is handling 3.5 million offline transactions in a month worth $8.5 million, excluding mobile recharges. It estimates that transactions in the offline business will alone grow 10 times to 35 million by the year end. Giving a look at Paytm's plan, the estimate seems promising and rightly so for Paytm has been working hard and yielding results as well. For the future, it all depends on how convenient payments are made for people, which will lead to adding more users.
Ritu Kochar

Former Staff, Entrepreneur India

Ritu used to work as a Feature writer for Entrepreneur India.
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