Paytm CEO reiterates operating profitability in latest letter to shareholders; says sharpened focus on lending

In a letter to shareholders, Paytm chief Vijay Shekhar Sharma said the company was still on track to achieve operating profitability (EBITDA before ESOP cost) by the quarter ending September 2023.
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Paytm chief Vijay Shekhar Sharma reiterated that the company was on track to achieve operating profitability by the quarter ending September 2023 in a letter to shareholders, ahead of its June-quarter ending results next week.

The fintech giant, which has seen its expenses eclipse the pace of revenue growth, leading to losses, has said time and again that it is focused on profitability - a major bone of contention for public markets, which has reflected its concerns in the company's dwindling stock price.

Earlier this year, Paytm fell nearly 75 percent from its IPO price, wiping out more than Rs 1 lakh crore in market capitalisation in March when the plunge happened.

In an effort to assuage shareholders, Sharma said in April that volatile market conditions were to be partly blamed. And to an extent, that has been true, given the pressure global markets have been under since the Ukraine-Russia escalation and looming recessionary threats.

But, in its last reported quarter, Paytm did show signs of steering towards profitability. Its revenue from operations jumped 89 percent in the fourth quarter, with growth across its biggest business units: payments services to consumers and merchants.

Its lending business has been doing well too, which is what most Dalal Street analysts say it must pay attention to.

"We have sharpened our focus on payments and distribution of lending products, and have prioritised these businesses in our resource allocation," said Sharma in the latest letter to shareholders, which is part of its annual report - its first as a publicly listed company.

"BNPL, which allows our partner financial institutions to issue credit to consumers at the point of sale, has become a consumer favourite. Our attention is on helping our financial institution partners issue less and less risky loans to more and more people," Sharma added.

The card-based BNPL model has been riding choppy regulatory waves currently following the Reserve Bank of India's latest notification on nonbank prepaid payment instruments. Many are scrambling to change their business models to continue operating.

"I believe that over the past year, our team has done a great job in massively improving our revenues and contribution profits, which allows for investments in our payments and credit businesses while at the same time reducing our EBITDA losses," Sharma wrote.

Paytm's consolidated net loss was Rs 24 billion in the 2021-2022 financial year, compared with a loss of Rs 17.01 billion in 2020-2021.

Its shares were down 0.4 percent at Rs 713 in midday trading.

Edited by Teja Lele