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Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Most Creative People 2017

Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Founder and CEO, Paytm

For rescuing India's small businesses
The Most Creative People in business 2017

Vijay Shekhar Sharma launched Delhi-based digital-payments app Paytm in 2010 and then spent years trying to convince reluctant Indian merchants to give it a try. Customers tended to prefer cash, however, and while Paytm evolved into India’s lead­­ing digital wallet, growth remained slow. Then, in November 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dropped a bombshell: To reduce corruption, he was scrapping the country’s most common bills, effective immediately. Cash trans­actions were suddenly difficult, and Paytm represented a solution. Sharma quickly launched a na­­tion­­al advertising campaign, and consumers themselves often made the case to vendors. In a matter of weeks, Paytm added 3 million merchants, quadrupling the company’s reach. In February 2017, Paytm’s parent company, One97 Commu­nications, raised an additional $200 million to fund broader e-commerce efforts, with Alibaba leading the round. Sharma, meanwhile, has been transformed from an idiosyncratic en­­trepreneur to something of a national hero. He has seen a video of Indian schoolchildren singing about Paytm, and a photograph of a rural merchant who had drawn a poster of the Paytm logo by hand. “Wow, this brand has reached everyone,” says the CEO. “I felt proud.”

Vijay Shekhar Sharma On The Web
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