The move, according to Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, would be a step toward the company’s eventual goal of one day making it to the United States. The sentiments were shared by Sharma at the TiE Global Summit, held this year in New Delhi.
“Dominance in Japan is very important,” he said. “It’s a market that we believe is at an inflection point, because people have done lot of trials but led with card (credit/debit) … we believe we have a very high value proposition.”
Sharma has made significant steps toward his Japan goal. In July, SoftBank Group announced the start of a digital payment service in Japan called PayPay, in partnership with Yahoo! Japan and Paytm. Launched in October, it allows customers to put money from a bank into a PayPay digital wallet.
The PayPay service aims to dissuade the use of cash in the country and to promote cashless payments. The amount of cashless payments currently stands at about 20 percent of all transactions; the Japanese government wants to raise that to 40 percent by 2025.
Sharma said he was pleased with the Japanese reception. “The initial traction [of the service] is so incredibly good; we are so pleasantly surprised,” he said. “If we kill it in Japan, we will get the ticket to go to the ‘big country.'”
He added that although further expansion in the area would be fortuitous, he has his sights set on America.
“So [expansion to] Southeast Asia could happen, but that’s not my personal ambition,” Sharma said. “My personal ambition will be to make America great again.”
Sharma, who gave the inaugural keynote address at the third annual edition of the summit, said that India is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the current global financial climate.
“The time for our country has finally arrived – there is no better place to start a company today,” he said. “Today, it is easier to raise a billion dollars in India than anywhere else in the world.”