Image: Wikimedia Commons // The image has been modified.

Indian digital financial services upstart Paytm, has announced raising of a fresh round worth $1 Billion. The round will reportedly value the company at $16 Billion, making it one of the highest valued financial services startups globally. According to the company, investors in this round include existing shareholders such as Alibaba-owned Ant Financial, Softbank Vision Fund, and new investors including funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. among others. Discovery Capital, an existing shareholder of the company, has also participated in the round.

The amount, apart from being a large figure in itself, is significant in many ways.

For one, Paytm represents yet another massive bet from Softbank through its Vision Fund. While the Masayoshi Son led investment engine has already been an investor in Paytm, it has reportedly put in sizeable cash in this round as well. Considering how things have panned out so far for some of Son’s multi-billion bets like WeWork and Uber, Paytm represents a rather stable, and growing business. Second, the amount raised is the largest for the Indian startup ecosystem this year. While investments have continued to flow into Indian startups, the country has had a rather stagnant flow of capital for some time. This $1 Billion round will be a welcome news.

Paytm says, that while it focused on expanding digital payments footprint across the country in the ‘first phase of growth’, it will now shift its focus towards offerings in consumer internet space. This includes accelerating expansion of new-age financial services such as lending, insurance, investments, stockbroking to the masses. Interestingly, the company is also strengthening user engagement with content services under Paytm Inbox that offers games, news, videos and more.

Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma said, “At Paytm, we are committed to bringing half a billion Indians to the mainstream economy by onboarding them in the formal financial ecosystem. This new investment by our current and new investors is a reaffirmation of our commitment to serve Indians with new-age financial services.”

The company also announced, that it plans to invest ₹10,000 Cr. (~$1.4 Bn) over the next 3 years to bring financial inclusion to more underserved users in the country.

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