Paytm’s Sharma goes from ‘ineligible’ bachelor to billionaire

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NEW DELHI, Nov 18 (Businesshala) – At the age of 27, Vijay Shekhar Sharma was earning 10,000 rupees ($134.30) a month, a meager salary that didn’t help his marriage prospects.

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“In 2004-05, my father asked me to shut down his company and take a job for Rs 30,000,” Sharma, who founded the digital payments firm Paytm in 2010, told Businesshala.

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At the time, the trained engineer sold mobile content through a small company.

“The families of prospective brides will never call us back after finding out that I earn around Rs 10,000 per month,” Sharma said. “I had become an ineligible bachelor for my family.”

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Last week, 43-year-old Sharma led Paytm’s $2.5 billion initial public offering (IPO). The fintech firm has become the hallmark of a new India, where the country’s first generation of startups are making great debuts in the stock market and creating new millionaires.

Born to a schoolteacher father and a homemaker mother in a small town in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, Sharma, who became India’s youngest billionaire in 2017, still prefers to drink tea in a roadside car. and often take short morning walks to buy milk. and bread.

About when China’s Ant Group first invested in Paytm in 2015, Sharma said, “For a long time my parents didn’t know what their son was doing.” “Once my mother read about my net worth in a Hindi newspaper and asked me, ‘Vijay do you really have the kind of money they say you have?'”

Forbes has put Sharma’s net worth at $2.4 billion.

“What are my problems?”

Paytm started as a mobile recharge company a decade ago and grew rapidly after ride-hailing firm Uber listed it as an instant payment option in India. Its use increased rapidly in 2016 when India’s ban on high-denomination currency notes fueled digital payments.

Paytm, which also counts SoftBank and Berkshire Hathaway as its backers, has since branched out into services including insurance and gold sales, movie and flight ticketing, and bank deposits and remittances.

While Paytm pioneered digital payments in India, the space soon became crowded, as Google, Amazon, WhatsApp and Walmart’s PhonePe set out to grab a slice of the more than $95.29 trillion market by the end of March 2025. Services introduced, according to EY.

That push from global giants gave Sharma a rare moment of doubt, which he raised with Masayoshi Son, the billionaire founder of SoftBank’s tycoon.

“I called Massa and said – everybody’s here now, what do you think my odds are?”

Son, Yahoo! An early investor in! And Alibaba told Sharma to “raise more money, double and go all in” and focus all of its energy on building payments, unlike rivals, which had other primary businesses.

Sharma, who is married and has a son, said he never looked back.

While some market analysts are concerned about when Paytm will turn profitable, Sharma is confident of his company’s success.

In 2017, Paytm launched a bill payment app in Canada and a year later entered Japan with a mobile wallet.

“My dream is to take the Paytm flag to San Francisco, New York, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo. And when people see it they say – you know what, it is an Indian company,” Sharma said.

$1 = 74.4650 Indian Rupee Edited by Jacqueline Wong

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