© Reuters. An advertisement for Paytm, a digital wallet company, is displayed on a roadside stand in Kolkata.
LONDON (Reuters) – Indian financial technology giant PayTM could turn profitable this year as the pandemic fuels increased use of its payment platforms, the company’s CEO and founder told the Reuters Next conference. Speaking at a panel on how technology can help address financial foreclosure, Vijay Shekhar Sharma said that the crisis had forced more merchants to use PayTM platforms as businesses were forced to accept digital payments. “We could break even this year, we will start to make money,” he said. “I was surprised by the monetization opportunity in 2020 during the pandemic, not just because of our equity accounts but also because of loans.” PayTM, which started as a service for people to recharge their mobile phones, offers a digital payment platform for merchants, money transfers and bill payments across India. Its loan businesses include credit cards, personal loans, and business cash loans in partnership with other lenders. Pressed on whether the company, which is backed by Chinese financial technology giant Ant Financial and Japan’s Softbank (OTC :), would soon seek listing, Sharma said he would consider it when profitable but has no plans to ” short term”. PayTM was valued at around $ 16 billion during a private fundraising round in 2019. Cristina Junqueira, co-founder of Brazilian financial technology Nubank, who was also on the panel, said the coronavirus crisis had led to millions of people in the largest economy in Latin America to turn to digital banking for the first time. “Many of the people who were hardest hit financially by the pandemic were also asked to find ways to receive stimulus from the government … they had to choose digital media,” he said. Nubank is now looking to use an increase in deposits on its platform to start expanding its loan business. “As recovery approaches, there is a lot of need to rebuild, and many businesses went bankrupt and many people in need of credit. We are very hopeful that 2021 is a year where we can maybe increase our exposure on the side of credit, “Junqueira said. Excluding credit cards, Nubank’s loan portfolio stood at 332.7 million reais ($ 62.51 million) in the year to June 2020. “We have a lot more deposits than we can use in terms of funding, so we hope to deploy a lot of capital in 2021 and help stimulate economic development, “Junqueira said. He added that when Nubank becomes profitable will depend on how the expansion goes, but it could be within 18 months. The company is “in no rush” to list, he said. ($ 1 = 5.3226 reais)