The Indian Smartphone Revolution: Paytm’s Coming Of Age IPO (PAYTM)


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A couple of weeks in the past, I valued Zomato (FOOD), the Indian on-line meals supply firm, simply previous to its IPO, and argued that the joy about its potential was tied to the potential for progress in India and the shifting habits of Indian customers. Since its public providing, Zomato’s inventory worth has mirrored that pleasure, greater than doubling from its providing worth of 74 rupees per share. Ready within the wings for its public debut, is Paytm, an organization that in some ways is much more carefully tied to India’s macro story, drawing on the expansion of on-line commerce in India and a willingness of Indian customers to make use of cellular fee mechanisms. On this put up, I’ll have a look at the levers that drive Paytm’s worth, and you can also make your judgments on the place you assume this providing will lead by way of valuation and pricing.

Setting the Desk

Because the Paytm IPO speeds to providing date, it’s price trying again at its comparatively quick historical past as an organization, and the way a lot change has been packed into that interval. Since a lot of Paytm’s success has been pushed by the rise of good cellphone utilization amongst Indian customers, and the concurrent rise in cellular funds for items and companies, I’ll begin with a assessment of that rise, earlier than how Paytm has put itself in place to reap the benefits of that market shift.

The Rise of the Indian Smartphone Consumer

India was late to hitch the good cellphone occasion, held again each by the relative expensiveness of those gadgets, in addition to the absence of reasonably priced and dependable cell service in a lot of the nation. In 2010, fewer than 2% of Indians had good telephones, with most of them being nicely off and residing in city areas. Within the decade since, that has modified, because the good cellphone market has exploded to achieve lots of of tens of millions of Indians in 2020.

Supply: World Financial institution Database

Getting into 2021, greater than 500 million Indians had good telephones, making it the second largest smartphone market on the earth (after China), however its penetration fee of lower than 50% of the market gave it extra room to develop. There are a number of forces which have contributed to this shift, however two stand out.

  • The primary is that the prices of smartphones have decreased, and particularly so in India, as know-how and competitors have labored their magic. Specifically, the entry of Chinese language manufacturers, with Xiaomi and Vivo main the cost, performed a serious function in making smartphones extra reasonably priced to Indians.
  • The second is that cell service prices have additionally dropped, and in India, the drop in prices has been precipitous, after Reliance Jio entered the sport in 2016, and shortly acquired 100 million subscribers by providing free voice and knowledge calls over its 4G community. At present, Jio has greater than 400 million subscribers, and whereas it stays a lightning rod for criticism, it’s simple that it has performed a serious function within the evolution of the market.

As good telephones have grow to be ubiquitous in India, their utilization has soared, partly as a result of they’re the one digital gadgets that many Indians have obtainable to them to get on-line, and thus use to entry social media, leisure and procuring. By 2020, Indians ranked third on the earth in how a lot time they have been spending per day on their telephones, with COVID contributing to a surge in that yr:

App Annie, State of Cell 2021

Entry to those smartphones, along with poor banking outreach in India, has created the right storm for a surge in cellular funds in India, and this graph bears out this pattern:

Throughout the cellular fee area, there was additionally an exterior growth that added to its acceleration, and that was the appearance, in 2016, of United Funds Interface (UPI), a real-time fee interface devised by the Nationwide Funds Company of India, and controlled by the Reserve Financial institution of India, facilitating and rushing up inter-bank, individual to individual and individual to service provider transactions.

Paytm: Working Historical past

The rise of Paytm (Pay via Cell) as an organization parallels the rise of cell phones in India. When it was based in in 2010 by Vijay Sharma, it operated as a pre-paid cellular platform, however its market then was small each by way of numbers and companies provided. As cellular entry improved, Paytm has relentlessly added to its suite of merchandise. In 2014, it launched Paytm Pockets, a digital pockets that was accepted as a fee choice by main service suppliers and retailers. In 2016, it added ticket reserving to films, occasions and amusement parks, with flight bookings quickly after, and began Paytm Mall, a client procuring app, based mostly upon Alibaba’s (BABA) Taobao Mall mannequin. In 2017, it added Paytm Gold, permitting customers to purchase gold in portions as little as 1 rupee, and Paytm Funds Financial institution, a messaging platform with in-Chat funds. In 2018, it added a Paytm Cash, for funding and wealth administration, and in 2019, it launched a Paytm for Enterprise app for retailers to trace funds. Briefly, over time, it has used its platform of customers to launch itself into virtually each on-line exercise. As Paytm’s product suite has expanded, its numbers mirror each its strengths and weaknesses, with 4 key statistics monitoring its growth.

  • The primary is the variety of customers on its platform, utilizing a number of of its many companies.
  • The transactions that these customers make on the platform performs out within the gross merchandise worth of all of the services and products purchased.
  • The third is the take fee, i.e., the proportion of this gross merchandise worth that Paytm information as its revenues.
  • The final is the working margin, its working earnings (or loss) as a p.c of working earnings every year.

The desk beneath is my try to recreate how Paytm has carried out on these key measures in recent times, with the caveat that a number of the info (on customers and GMV, particularly previous to 2019) is cobbled collectively from claims by company executives, press stories and opaque disclosures from the agency.

Take Price = Revenues/ GMV

Trying on the numbers, we begin to get an image of Paytm, warts and all, over its lifetime. First, it’s a progress firm, for those who outline progress as progress in person depend and variety of transactions executed on its platform, and maybe in gross merchandise worth. Nonetheless, its progress in revenues has not saved monitor with these bigger statistics, resulting in a cynical conclusion that the corporate is including new companies and giving them away for nothing (or near it) to pad its person/transaction numbers. Second, it is a firm that appears to run on hyperbolic forecasts from its founders and prime administration, that aren’t simply persistently larger than what the corporate ship, however typically by an element of three or 4. As an example, simply to choose on one among many examples, Vijay Sharma claimed in an interview in 2019 with Enterprise Commonplace that the corporate’s GMV can be $ 100 billion (7500 billion rupees) by the top of the yr, greater than double what the corporate reported as GMV for that yr or the following. Third, entry to capital from its deep pocketed buyers, particularly Alibaba, appears to have made this firm informal about its enterprise mannequin and profitability, even by younger, tech firm requirements. In truth, there may be virtually by no means even a point out of profitability (or aspirations in direction of profitability) in any of the company soundbites that I used to be in a position to learn. The image that emerges of Paytm is that of a administration that’s too targeted on racking up person numbers, and too distracted to care about changing these into revenues and income, whereas making grandiose statements about its future. Utilizing the company life cycle framework to evaluate Paytm, it resembles an adolescent with consideration deficit points, in its scattershot method to progress and absence of consideration to enterprise particulars, and if you’re an investor, you need to hope that going public will trigger it to develop up shortly.

Paytm: Funding and Possession

Paytm’s bold progress plans have made it one among India’s premier money burning machines, and it has been in a position to pull these plans off, as a result of it has discovered ample sources of capital to feed them. Within the desk beneath, I record Paytm’s huge capital infusions over its lifetime:

Alongside the way in which, there have been others who’ve offered capital to the agency (Reliance, Ratan Tata) who’ve exited as overseas buyers, led by Alibaba and SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY), have muscled their means into the agency. These capital infusions have naturally led to a diminution of the share of the corporate held by its founder, and the pie chart beneath lists the homeowners of Paytm, forward of its IPO:

Be aware that whereas the corporate’s origins and enterprise are in India, it’s primarily a Chinese language-owned firm forward of its IP0, with Ant Group, Alibaba and SAIF Companions (a Hong-Kong based mostly non-public fairness agency) collectively proudly owning greater than 50% of the shares, with the Softbank Imaginative and prescient fund as the following largest investor with 18%. Vijay Sharma’s holdings within the firm have dwindled to fifteen% of the corporate, and his tenure as CEO will depend on whether or not he can preserve his overseas shareholder base joyful.

Paytm: Story and Valuation

With that lead in, the items are in place to worth Paytm and I’ll begin by laying out the worth drivers for the corporate and observe with my valuation. In making this evaluation, I’ll draw on the corporate’s said plans to lift cash from the providing, although they might be altered as the corporate will get to its providing date.

The Story

The corporate’s historical past supplies some perception into the Paytm’s worth drivers, beginning with a big and rising cellular fee market in India, and dealing right down to the corporate’s working metrics.

The worth story for Paytm begins with a big and rising digital fee market in India, one which has surged during the last 4 years, and is predicted to extend five-fold over the following 5 years, because the good cellphone penetration fee rises for India and extra retailers settle for cellular funds. Whereas Paytm has the benefit of getting been within the Indian cellular fee market the longest, and having the biggest person base, PhonePe and Google Pay (GOOGL) have outmaneuvered Paytm within the UPI app ecosystem, claiming the lion’s share of that market, although the majority of the transaction in that ecosystem are person-to-person. Paytm’s giant person base, near 350 million, and the vast acceptance of its wallets enable it to dominate the individual to service provider (P2M) market in India, giving it a market share of near 50% in early 2021.

The expansion within the Indian cellular fee market will present sufficient of a tailwind for Paytm to proceed to develop its person base and transactions, however the greater challenges for Paytm will probably be on the enterprise dimensions the place it has lagged previously.

  • The primary is within the take fee, the place Paytm has seen its income share of GMV drop from 2.18% in 2016-17 to 0.79% in 2020-21, as the corporate has prioritized buying customers and person transactions over really producing revenues from these transactions. To get a measure of an affordable take fee that the corporate can aspire to achieve in the long run, I checked out bigger, extra established gamers within the fee processing area:

From firm 10Ks. Eliminated internet curiosity earnings from Amex revenues and subscription/bitcoin/{hardware} revenues from Sq. revenues

Visa and Mastercard, the established order gamers, nonetheless retain appreciable market share, although Mastercard has the next take fee (1.83%) than Visa does (1.11%); American Categorical has the next take fee than the 2 bigger gamers, as a result of it will get the next p.c of its income from annual card charges. PayPal, Shopify and Sq., all of which derive their revenues from merchandising worth, have take charges between 2% and three%, although Sq. will get substantial further revenues from bitcoin transactions (not counted in GMV or revenues on this desk). Ant Financials, maybe the corporate that Paytm has most carefully modeled itself round, has a low take fee (1.37%), however makes up for it with large transaction volumes. In modeling Paytm’s take fee over time, I’ll start by assuming that the corporate will spend the following few years placing person progress first, on the expense of producing revenues, and that the take fee will keep low over the following 5 years, rising slowly to 1% in 2026. Within the years following, although, I anticipate the take fee to double (to 2%), as the main focus shifts from customers to revenues, and its enterprise mannequin approaches that of a extra standard fee processing firm.

  • The second huge problem that Paytm faces is producing income, a feat the corporate has been unable to perform over its lifetime. Whereas the working margins posted by Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA) could also be unreachable, observe that PayPal’s (PYPL) working margin has been trending up, as the corporate has grow to be greater. As Paytm will increase its revenues, and person progress begins to stage off, Paytm’s advertising and personnel bills ought to begin to lower, and I anticipate working income to show constructive and the working margin to achieve 5% in 2026, and for that enchancment to speed up within the following 5 years, as progress charges lower, permitting for an working margin of 30% in steady progress.
  • As a know-how firm, whose most beneficial asset is the platform that it presents and services and products on, Paytm’s reinvestments have been largely within the type of acquisitions and know-how investments, and we assume that it’s going to proceed to observe this path, producing 3 in revenues for each rupee of capital invested within the close to time period, however 2.45 per greenback invested in the long run, converging on an trade common (for enterprise and client companies). Throughout the on-line fee area, this quantity has vast variance, with PayPal, maybe essentially the most mature of the businesses, having a gross sales to invested capital of two.54 during the last 5 years and Sq. (SQ), a youthful and sooner rising participant, reporting a gross sales to invested capital of 5.68.
  • On the chance entrance, there may be little motive to reinvent the wheel. Paytm’s value of capital, in rupee phrases, is 10.43%, reflecting its enterprise threat, and places the corporate just under the median Indian firm, in threat phrases. The corporate’s capability to burn money will proceed to show it to threat, however with deep pocketed buyers (Alibaba and Softbank), and a big money steadiness (put up IPO), the chance of failure is low (5%).
  • To get from these numbers to a price per share, I take advantage of the prevailing share depend, along with the data within the prospectus that the corporate plans to lift 16,600 million on the providing, with half of those proceeds staying within the agency to cowl future funding wants and the opposite half going to current shareholders, cashing out.

There are different Paytm companies which will increase revenues in future years, however every one comes with caveats. The cash deposited in Paytm wallets by customers can probably earn curiosity for the corporate, however restrictions that this cash be saved in escrow accounts at banks, not at all times paying near market rates of interest, can crimp that earnings stream. Paytm Financial institution may develop from its very restricted presence now to extra conventional banking (taking deposits, making loans), however that may be a capital and regulation intensive enterprise. I imagine that Paytm’s core worth comes from being an middleman, within the funds enterprise, and the story displays that perception.

The Valuation

If you happen to purchase into my story of Paytm persevering with to take care of a dominant market share of the cellular fee market in India, whereas additionally rising its take fee over time and enhancing working margins to these of an middleman enterprise, you might have the items in place for a valuation of Paytm, captured within the image beneath:

Worth per share of ₹2950 is for unlisted shares.

I do know that there are lots of on either side of the worth divide who will disagree with me on my story and valuation, and that’s par for the course. On one aspect, there will probably be some who view a price of near $20 billion (1500 billion) for a corporation with a pittance in revenues, a historical past of working losses and distracted administration as madness. On the opposite aspect, there will probably be some who really feel that I’m not giving the corporate credit score for all the new companies it might enter, utilizing its huge platform of customers, and thus below valuing the corporate. To either side, my protection is that that is my story and valuation, and it’ll drive my funding, however that you’re welcome to obtain the spreadsheet, change the inputs that you simply disagree with and give you your personal valuations.

In making my evaluation, I totally perceive that there’s substantial working and execution threat on this story, since this worth presupposes that Paytm will stay a dominant participant within the Indian cellular fee area, because it grows, and that Paytm’s administration will pivot from rising customers to rising revenues and from rising revenues to rising income, over time, with nothing of their historical past to again that up. Evidently, if I invested in Paytm, it might not solely must be on the proper worth, i.e., buying and selling at lower than 1500 billion, but additionally with the acceptance that this can’t be a passive (purchase and maintain) funding, however one that can require energetic engagement and monitoring of the corporate’s actions and efficiency. To evaluate how this uncertainty will play out in my estimates of general fairness worth, I did a Monte Carlo simulation, with my level estimates on complete GMV, take fee, working margin and gross sales to invested capital changed with distributions:

Crystal Ball used for simulation

There are classes, albeit some apparent, that emerge from this simulation. First, given that nearly all the worth of Paytm comes from expectations of the long run, and there may be vital uncertainty on each single dimension, it ought to come as no shock that the vary on estimated worth is immense, with a 3percentchance that the corporate’s fairness is price nothing to greater than ₹2000 billion on the ninetieth percentile. Second, with this vary in worth, the potential on your priors and biases to play out in your closing valuation are sturdy. Put merely, for those who like the corporate a lot that you simply wish to purchase the inventory, you could find a method to make the assumptions that get to that worth. Third, even for those who strongly favor the corporate and discover it below valued, it might be hubris to pay attention your portfolio, round this inventory. In different phrases, that is the kind of inventory that you’d put 5% or maybe 10% of your portfolio in, not 25% or 40%.

Closing Ideas

As human beings, it’s pure for us to categorize selections we face into broad groupings, as a result of these groupings then enable us to generalize. Within the Nineteen Eighties, when know-how corporations first entered the market in huge numbers, we categorised all of them as excessive progress, excessive threat investments. Whereas that categorization would have labored on the time, it’s fairly clear that the know-how sector at present will not be solely a dominant phase of the market (accounting for the biggest slice of the S&P 500 market capitalization pie), however can also be residence to a big selection of corporations. In truth, at one finish of the spectrum, there are lots of older tech corporations that are actually mature, and even perhaps in decline, and a number of other are steady, money incomes machines, akin to the patron product corporations of the 1980. On the different finish, you see new sub-segments of technology-based corporations which have emerged to assert the “excessive progress, excessive threat” mantle, deriving extra of their worth from the variety of customers on their platforms, than from standard monetary metrics. A couple of weeks in the past, once I valued Zomato, I argued that it was a joint guess on the corporate’s continued dominance of the meals supply market and the expansion within the Indian restaurant/meals supply enterprise. Paytm can also be a joint guess on an early entrant into the Indian cellular fee market, persevering with to take care of market share, in a rising digital fee market in India. That mentioned, the businesses have very totally different enterprise fashions, with Zomato’s 20% plus take of each greenback spent on its platform vastly exceeding Paytm’s lower than 1% take of each greenback spent on its platform. They’re each huge market bets, however the Paytm guess is rather more depending on administration determining a method to develop, whereas enhancing take charges on the similar time.

Authentic Publish

Editor’s Be aware: The abstract bullets for this text have been chosen by In search of Alpha editors.



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