India’s largest mobile commerce platform. Paytm started by offering mobile
recharge and utility bill payments and today it offers a full marketplace to
consumers on its mobile apps. They have over 100mn registered users. In a short
span of time Paytm has scaled to more than 60 Million orders per month. Paytm
is the consumer brand of India’s leading mobile internet company One97
Communications. One97 investors include Ant Financial (AliPay), SAIF Partners,
Sapphire Venture and Silicon Valley Bank. They strive to maintain an open
culture where everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing
ideas and opinions. Their team spends hours designing each new feature and
obsesses about the smallest of details. Their approach is simple – to design
something they’d LOVE to use
themselves. Therefore, they listen and take the time to understand their users
and take consumer reactions most seriously.
was founded and incubated by One97 Communications Limited in 2010 as a prepaid
mobile recharge website. It was founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma. In 2013, the
company launched Paytm Wallet, which became India’s largest mobile payment
service platform with over 150 million wallets and 75 million Android-based app
downloads as of November 2016. The surge in usage of the service was largely
due to the demonetization of the 500 and 1000 rupee currency notes. After 8
November 2016, Paytm’s transactions and profit increased significantly. Paytm
has invested $5 million in auto rickshaw aggregator and hyperlocal delivery
firm Jugnoo. It has also acquired Delhi-based consumer behavior prediction
platform Shifu for $8 million and local services startup Near.in for $2 million
Paytm received a license from the Reserve Bank of India to start one of India’s first payments banks, called
“Paytm Payments Bank Limited”. At the time, the bank intended to use
Paytm’s existing user base for offering new services, including debit cards,
savings accounts, online banking and transfers, to enable a cashless economy.
Paytm Wallet application enables users to book air tickets and taxis, mobile
recharge, and payment of DTH, broadband and electricity bills among others. The
money transfer feature is only available for mobile users, not for desktop.
Users can also pay for fuel at Petrol pumps and buy movie tickets at PVR
Cinemas through the wallet.
Executive Summary About “Paytm Karo”
PayTM had been launched in 2010 as a
mobile and DTH recharge platform. In 2014 they launched online wallets and in
one short year had already reached 23 million wallets. In 2016, they were
looking for a quantum jump in this number. Clearly, the growth had to come from
Tier I and II town consumers.
However – for Tier II consumers, the world of online
payments was literally becoming a bewildering web. Credit card. Debit card.
NetBanking. Visa Pay. Airtel Money. PayUMoney. Mobikwik. So many options and
methods that even the savvy urban consumer was hard-pressed to keep up.
The answer lay in changing the frame
of reference from yet another payment platform, to a new currency.
The creative approach showed everyday situations, like
bickering over change with auto drivers. The catchphrase “PayTM Karo”
(Just Paytm it”) turned PayTM into a verb, elevating it to a currency in
its own right.
An Integrated Media approach,
covering every possible consumer touchpoint, gave it mass stature.
Tie-ups with leading FMCG companies
for cash-back promos on paying with PayTM, encouraged universality of use.
Result – PayTM went from 23mn
wallets to 105mn wallets within 10 months.
India had accepted a new currency.
and cultural context
real complications of virtual money
In a simpler
world, not so long ago, making a payment was easy – it was either cash or
cheque. Then came credit cards. And debit cards. Net banking. And now, with the
introduction of e-wallets and mobile wallets the complexity reached a whole new
level. Brands like Airtel Money, Vodafone m-pesa, Mobikwik, PayUMoney.
Platforms like VisaPay. Aggregators like Masterpass. So many options and
methods that even the savvy urban consumer was hard – pressed to keep up. The
world of online payments was literally becoming a bewildering web.
Mobile payment platforms – All hype
but not really keeping pace with the smartphone explosion.
option on the block, the app-based mobile payment platforms or mobile wallets,
were the new buzzwords, but data indicated that they were not really keeping
pace with the smartphone explosion that they were supposed to ride.
In 2014, there were 140 million smartphones in the
market, but all the key players in the mobile wallet segment like Mobikwik,
Airtel Money, Vodafoe m-paisa and CitrusPay were struggling to cross a
penetration for 10-15%. Even the biggest player, PayTM, was at 20 million- only
a fraction of the 140 million
As the smartphone explosion headed
to smaller towns, the task was only going to get more difficult.
The category needed
new users. But there were barriers.
mobile internet and online shopping – for all three, the big growths were going
to come from Tier I and II towns. And it was at the confluence of these three
that PayTM’s opportunity lay. So if a quantum jump were to be achieved, the
growth had to come from mass segment consumers.
expansion of the category was not going to be driven by motivators like
convenience, instant speed or discount coupons but by overcoming adoption
The barrier of
intimidation: money + technology platform
market consumer was increasingly feeling out of step with the rapid
developments he was witnessing all around him. He was only just beginning to
understand the notion of virtual money. To now have to deal with virtual money
on a technology- based, online platform was a double whammy.
The barrier of
complexity: Ease of Use
For the mass
segment consumers, the world of online payments was a maze. So many options and
methods that even the tech–savvy urban consumer was hard–pressed to keep up.
Now imagine the state of the masses.
The barrier of mass
acceptance: It was of little use if everyone else didn’t use it
The Strategic Communication
Challenge before Paytm :
How could Paytm go from “The
Better Way to Pay” to “The Only way to Pay”?
The Objective was simple: increase
in the number of Paytm mobile wallets. More specifically, “mass
thought about Paytm when they through payments – KPI: Top of mind /Spont
Awareness; More people downloaded the app;
More people created a PayTM account
– KPI: Number of wallets;
Increase in usage of PayTM by
people– KPI: increase in average transaction value.
and strategic thinking
The Big Idea:
From payment platform to currency.
New Currency – Paytm KARO.
Paytm’s quest was democratization of
The other players were trying to project online
transactions as the “cool”, new way to pay. The protagonists were
generally hip youngsters, who were completely beyond the understanding of their
parents or elders. In an attempt to appeal to the youth, humour and cleverness
were almost the norm. However, the broader masses could not relate to it.
People don’t understand payment
platforms, they understand currency.
Any currency is not only measured by
its transactional worth, but also by its emotional worth.
Paytm decided to change the frame of
From a better payment platform than
everyone to a better currency than cash
and/or channel execution
The entire strategy was carefully crafted
keeping in mind the objective of Driving Mass Acceptance for India’s New
Making it the new default behavior – Firstly,
and most importantly, they turned Paytm into a verb (like “Google
it”), saying “PayTM
Karo” (“Just Paytm It”)-a verbal shorthand that elevated Paytm
from being merely a platform to a currency in its own
Showcasing width of acceptance – The TVC
showed various everyday instances that the mass market consumer could easily relate with, such as A payment to an
autorickshaw driver without the inevitable bickering over change, a brother
giving his sister “Rakhi ka shagun”
(Rakhi is a festival that celebrates the brother-sister relationship, where the
ritual has the brother handing over a token amount of cash – “shagun” – to the sister), a son
recharging his mother’s phone. These situations underlined the universality of
use of Paytm, and took the brand deep into their everyday lives.
usage – Paytm tied up with various FMCG companies like Lays,
Britannia, L’Oreal and even Kingfisher (India’s most popular brand of beer). There
was a consumer cash-back scheme with these companies if consumers purchased
these items using Paytm.
Acceptance – The TVC showed various instances with an added
emotional component. The son recharging
his mother’s phone was so that she could speak with him a bit longer. The
showcased a typical relationship between brother and sister. Paytm also took
the “rakhi shagun” idea
to print, releasing a half page ad on Rakhi dai, telling brothers to gift their
sisters with PayTM cash this year.
Giving it mass
stature – Nothing reaches the masses better in India than
cricket. Paytm launched its campaign with the biggest
cricket show in India – the Indian Premier League. It further leveraged its
association with BCCI – the Board of Cricket Control in India – with the
India–South Africa Freedom series. The entire award presentation backdrop was
branded by Paytm.
radio extensively to reach out to the general public in different states. Apart
from radio ads, there was seamless content integration – e.g. the anchor asking
people to narrate embarrassing instances when they had run out of cash (setting
up the relevance of PayTM).
Print ads were run in 25 leading
vernacular dailies cross the country.
Ads were placed inside autorickshaws
Spots were taken on Hindi news
channels before the 9 0’clock news
#1. From 23 million
wallets to 105 million wallets in 10 months.
A four-fold jump in the number of
wallets and Paytm had breached the 100 million barrier. India had accepted a
new currency –
#2. Proof that
advertising was driving this.
The massive jump in top-of-mind and
#3. A whopping 109%
jump in number of app downloads in the campaign period
People were using Paytm more than ever before. Dth recharge, a key measure of usage
showed a 150% jump from 205
crore to 505 crore.
#5. The biggest
evidence of mass acceptance – the changing profile of the Paytm users:
1. The number of recharges with
transaction value less than Rs.100 – went up from 9.08 mn to 17.2mn – an
increase of 90%!
2. Number of wallets with transactions
below Rs. 1000 – from 2.9mn to 8.4 mn – an increase of 186%!
3. The number of market place orders
from non-metro areas went up from 150,000 to 600,000 – an increase of 300%!
In the Economic Times most trusted brand study, Paytm was the most trusted
compared to all the other
Paytm had managed to break the
barriers and given India the new way to pay – Paytm karo.
frame of reference can be invaluable. The moment Paytm defined its competition
not as other online platforms, but as cash, it set itself on the path to