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Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s Reddit AMA: Dominance is Paytm’s short term aim, not profits

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO and founder of Paytm, took to Reddit for an AMA yesterday. Other than stating the top 5 people who influenced him (Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, Jack Ma, Masa Son and Ben Evans), Sharma admitted that starting a blog about customers which at one time published names of customers was a bad idea, changing Paytm’s hiring requirements from the current ‘needing a degree from a top college to prove a developer’s worth’ like one redditer put it, and buying music legally. Here are some snippets:

On profitablity and short term goals: 

“We earned some profit in last 2 weeks. That said, profit is not short term aim, dominance is. So may be after next year.”

On open source software: Sharma mentioned that Paytm was starting a fellow programme soon as part of Paytm’s policy to contribute to open source. The programme will promote contributions and publish papers and researches.

“(Indian companies are) Busy building for themselves. New age companies take this (open source) seriously so change is here. I expect more contributions. 2. yes, we actively support open source. We are starting a Fellow program soon. Will promote contributions + publishing papers and researches. 3. (on security lapses) No company would want to be on other side of a breach. It is tougher to meet very savvy security experts.”

On startup bubbles: 

“If you call, next rounds have dried up as bubble, yes. “About to” (burst) is too short a cycle. That said, next round (of fundraising) for everyone is getting tougher. Smart ones raised money in time. May there be more bubbles, so that we see tide of change agents.”

On subscription-based payment options and digital media: Apparently Paytm does offer payment options for subscription-based services and a few music companies are using them. Let us know which companies do use these options. Sharma also said that the digital media business which charge for subscriptions is tough as consumers will eventually get the content for cheaper or free. He also added that content licensing costs “are out of logic”.

On free code misues: 

Yep, We blocked lot of users. In fact we purged more than 5Mn users!

Ola Money: Interestingly, Sharma said that he does not view Ola Money as competition, even though he admitted that anyone who can process payments should be seen as potential competition. In November, Ola Money was launched as a separate app on Android which can do mobile recharges, money transfers and be used to transact on platforms like OYO Rooms, Saavn, Lenskart, Zo Rooms and TinyOwl.

“Anyone who can process payments should be a potential competition. I have superb respect to Bhavish & Ola so don’t really look at them as one.”

On net neutrality: Sharma said, “Net must be 100% neutral. No side lanes.” Paytm has been a strong supporter for Net Neutrality and had opposed Airtel’s zero rating platform Airtel Zero. Interestingly there was a tweet which pointed out that there might be an alliance between Flipkart, NDTV, Paytm and Cleartrip which would support net net neutrality. Any word on this yet?

Integration costs and transaction fees: The cost of a peer-to-peer transfer on Paytm is zero while the company incurs a cost of 2% per transaction when money comes into the Paytm network through cards and netbanking. Freebies make the cost of transaction more to 5% of the transaction. Hence, Paytm charges around 4% of the transaction when there is a withdrawal from the Paytm wallet to a bank account.

 For p2p it is zero. Cost if for loading wallet from credit/debit cards. That’s why when it goes out of wallet network to bank account, we charge fee.

 You know that when money comes to paytm network we pay upto 2% and adding freebies etc it makes even costlier to bring money upto 5%. When it goes out of paytm network, we neutralise this cost and charge 4%. Funding wallet is zero cost! P2P remains zero cost.

Editing by Shashidhar KJ

Image Credit: Reddit India/Imgur

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