May 14, 2019 / 11:59 AM / 10 days ago

Citigroup looks to vastly expand India reach with Paytm tie-up

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s top digital payments firm Paytm on Tuesday launched a credit card with Citigroup, widening its financial product base while giving its banking partner an opportunity to vastly expand its credit card customer base in the country.

A worker adjusts a hoarding of Paytm, a digital payments firm, in Ahmedabad, India, January 31, 2019. Picture taken January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave

The new card should help Paytm stay a step ahead of rivals in the fiercely competitive digital payments market in India where companies from Alphabet Inc-owned Google to Walmart-owned PhonePe, are all scrambling to grab a piece of the digital payments pie that is projected to grow to $500 billion by 2020, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

For Citi, it is a big opportunity to extend its retail presence in India.

Even if only 1% of Paytm’s over 300 million customers use the new credit card, that’s a huge number, Stephen Bird, Chief Executive, Global Consumer Banking at Citi told reporters at a news conference.

“We think there is a tremendous potential for growth of this partnership,” Bird added.

Paytm became a household name across India after New Delhi’s shock move to ban high-value currency notes late in 2016 led to a cash crunch and boosted use of its electronic wallet.

Its parent One97 Communications counts Japan’s SoftBank Group, Alibaba and Berkshire Hathaway among its investors.

The Paytm First Card will offer 1 percent cashback on all transactions, unlike reward points offered by most rival credit cards in India.

“We understood that there is a set of the customer base or customer needs that get fulfilled when you have a credit card or card in the hand,” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of One97 Communications.

“That is why we had launched a debit card of our bank and today we complete our offering with a credit card partnership with Citibank.”

Sharma, a self-made billionaire, said his firm is targeting “urban aspirational users who are first-time credit users”.

(The story is refiled to fix syntax in headline.)

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Keith Weir

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