Tuesday 26 January 2016

E-commerce leads Paytm to Rs 372 crore loss in 2014-15

BENGALURU: Alibaba-backed digital payments and commerce platform Paytm posted a loss of Rs 372 crore in the fiscal ended March 2015, compared to a profit of over Rs 5 crore the year before.

The loss was on account of the Noida-based company's entry into the e-commerce business, where intense competition with Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal has forced it to spend huge sums on marketing and customer acquisition.

One 97 Communications, which runs Paytm, recorded a revenue of Rs 336 crore in 2014-15, as against Rs 210 crore the year before, according to filings with the Registrar of Companies.

The company's expenses swelled to Rs 697 crore, compared to Rs 200 crore in the previous year. Paytm earns revenue by facilitating payments - via its wallet business - and earning commissions through its e-commerce platform, where it aggregates thousands of sellers.

A major chunk of the increase in expenses in 2014-15 was driven by a 12-fold rise in its advertising and marketing expenditure to Rs 403 crore.

All major e-commerce companies, including Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal, are bleeding heavily and their losses have been rising sharply year after year. The three biggies together accounted for losses of over Rs 5,000 crore in 2014- 15, up from less than Rs 1,000 crore in 2013-14.

Paytm closed 2015 with an annual gross merchandise value, or GMV, of $3 billion, with more than 60% of it coming from the payments vertical. GMV is the value of goods sold on a platform, and in Paytm's case, also includes revenues.

Paytm's payments business facilitates transactions like mobile recharges across various utilities.

As TOI reported on January 23, Paytm's core payments business made operational profits at the end of 2015. But its e-commerce business loses over $20 million a month, primarily because of the discounts it offers on products.

Paytm founder & CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma , who started the company as a digital payments platform, says 2016 will see a major chunk of investments being channelized towards the commerce business where it hopes to touch a GMV of at least $5 billion this year. Including all businesses, Paytm targets to touch $10-billion GMV in 2016.

Paytm is getting big support from Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant. The company received $200 million in funding from the Alibaba Group affiliate entity Ant Financial in February last year, and another $500 million in September, this time from both the Alibaba Group Holding and Ant Financial. The Alibaba Group now holds 40% stake in the company, and multi-stage fund SAIF Partners, Paytm's early investor, holds 30%. Sharma holds about 21% stake.

The company is said to be valued at about $3.5 billion.

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