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Indian digital payments and ecommerce platform Paytm launched a new online marketplace on Monday, Paytm Mall.
According to a statement from Paytm, the platform will provide customers with access to some 68 million products sold by 140,000 vendors. Logistics will be handled through 17 fulfillment centers operated by third-party warehouses, along with 40 courier services. The new service will be made available to customers both via Android app and website, with the launch of an iOS app not too far off.
Paytm Mall is closely modeled after Tmall, the Alibaba-owned marketplace that dominates B2C retail ecommerce in China. Paytm wants to entice brands to operate their own storefronts on Paytm Mall the same way they do on Tmall in China. Paytm Mall also plans to focus on the fashion, electronics and CPG product categories to drive its initial growth, just as TMall did.
Paytm’s strategy of mirroring Tmall is no accident. Alibaba and its affiliate Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay, already own a 42% stake in Paytm. And according to several media reports, Alibaba and Ant Financial are expected to enlarge their combined stake in Paytm’s newly created ecommerce-focused entity to more than 50% through a new round of funding.
Paytm hopes to draw on Alibaba’s experience dealing with gaps in China’s infrastructure that can make payments processing, inventory management and delivery difficult—experience that is likely to translate well in India. In exchange, Alibaba uses a proxy to gain entry to the Indian ecommerce market, one that is now evolving into a battle between Amazon India and homegrown entity Flipkart.
But Paytm—and, by extension, Alibaba—is not starting from scratch. According to June 2016 data from Jana, Paytm ranks second among mcommerce apps used by those in India on Android smartphones.
Meanwhile, Paytm’s digital payments service shows no sign of slowing. The same day the company unveiled its new ecommerce platform, it also announced that its digital wallet service, Paytm Wallet, had registered more than 200 million users. Paytm saw a significant spike in users following the government’s November 2016 demonetization effort, in which it made two high-value denominations of cash illegal as part of efforts to crack down on corruption and tax evasion.
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