India play makes sense for PayPal

US online payments major PayPal Holdings Inc and Snapdeal-owned FreeCharge on Friday denied reports that the former was gearing up to make an India entry by picking up a significant minority stake of 25 per cent for $200 million in the Indian digital payments firm. 

While both companies termed the reports as ‘market speculation’, experts say it makes sense for PayPal to have presence in India given the Narendra Modi-led government’s push towards digitisation and a cashless economy in the wake of demonetisation. 
“Any company that makes an entry into India at this point of time will benefit from the sudden surge in digital payments. PayPal, even if it is not in talks with FreeCharge, might be testing the waters and finding a way to make an entry into the country. Alipay has taken over the China market, so India is the only viable option for PayPal,” said a senior analyst with an international consultancy firm, who asked not to be identified. 
According to him, PayPal needs to make an entry into India soon, as Alibaba would be possibly entering the country next year. “Alibaba has Paytm and it has put all the technical knowhow of Alipay behind it. The moment it enters India, Alibaba would in all probability increase its digital wallet play via Paytm. PayPal needs to decide its India play soon.” 
The Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal-led company and its sister concern FreeCharge have been fighting rumours of stake sales in the recent past. On the recent media reports on stake sale to PayPal, a Snapdeal spokesperson said: “There is no such deal in the works. We are not in talks with anyone.” 
In response to an email query on the same subject, PayPal said: “PayPal does not comment on rumors or speculation.”
FreeCharge was founded in August 2010 by Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon with funding from Sequoia Capital, Tybourne Capital Management and San Francisco-based fund Valiant Capital Management. Snapdeal acquired FreeCharge in April last year for around $450 million. 
The India digital cash market is currently pegged at Rs 6,000 crore, of which Rs 4,500 crore comes via money transfers and the rest through e-commerce.
Digital wallets have seen a massive growth of 300 per cent and there have been 35 million new users of digital wallets in the past month itself. The government has taken a slew of measures to promote cashless economy, which include special benefits and rebates for those who use digital money.

To enter or not?
  • The India digital cash market is currently pegged at Rs 6,000 crore, of which Rs 4,500 crore comes via money transfers and the rest through e-commerce
  • Digital wallets have seen a massive growth of 300 per cent and there have been 35 million new 
  • users of digital wallets in the past month itself
  • PayPal and FreeCharge on Friday denied reports that the former was gearing up to make an India entry
  • Snapdeal and FreeCharge have been fighting rumours of stake sales in the recent past



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