New Delhi: Earlier this month, digital payments firm Paytm tied up with Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions for a loyalty program. The 499 card that would offer cashback worth 1,500 on all Dharma movies, Uber vouchers worth 500 and other rewards is part of Paytm’s aggressive bid in the entertainment, particularly the film segment. The fintech startup that launched its film vertical in 2016 acquired Alibaba-owned ticketing platform TicketNew earlier this year as well as a majority stake in Insider.in, has been exclusive ticketing partner for recent big-ticket Bollywood films like Sanju and Race 3.

“We’ve identified the entertainment category as one of our key focus areas," said Madhur Deora, chief financial officer and senior vice-president, Paytm. “The biggest form of entertainment is movies, but out of the 1.5 billion tickets sold every year in India, only 10% are bought online," he said.

Deora added that a Paytm customer is already used to and comfortable with the interface so it’s not like starting from scratch to sell him another service. “If customers come to Paytm to do recharge or some other transaction, they also become a target for me to sell movie tickets. They find it so convenient, they already have the app downloaded, they are doing transactions and are used to the payment interface," Deora said.

“Over the next few years, we want to increase online penetration, and double our business every year. We’re trying to find a way where everybody would buy tickets online instead of being inconvenienced by buying it offline."

Meanwhile, Paytm has come up with regular cashbacks and cancellation protect offers apart from tie-ups with cinema chains. The idea is also to share insights with the partners to attract larger audiences. It offers information on what kind of people a particular studio’s movies appeal to, or how a theatre chain can improve its occupancy on weekdays.

While Deora didn’t share numbers on Paytm’s entertainment business, industry experts say they wouldn’t be a huge part of its overall revenue yet. At sales of 50-60 billion tickets a year, Paytm may be looking at movie entertainment revenues of 250 crore, expected to grow to 1,000 crore over the next 18 months. But the broader intent is customer acquisition.

Paytm has created a positioning for itself as far as the financial transaction landscape is concerned. It now wants to leverage the platform and get into every consumer area where transaction is happening, entertainment being one of them," said Saurabh Uboweja, international brand expert and chief executive officer at management consulting firm Brands of Desire.

Apart from movies, Paytm has also been ticketing partner for two IPL (Indian Premier League) teams, Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab, besides the Delhi and Goa teams of the Indian Super League this year. It has also signed up for the sale of IPL merchandise through Paytm Mall. Such strategic partnerships, industry analysts say, bring 10-40% of the sales for Paytm, that acts as distributor.

Sports, music and comedy are three live events the company has identified as target areas in the entertainment segment, apart from movies. But unlike competitor BookMyShow that curates its own jukebox, there are no plans on original content.

“Our job is to help our partners grow their business, not become a competitor. I can help you sell more tickets faster or take your event to more cities because I have the customer acquisition. But our business is not to get into movie production or cinema chains or music organizers," Deora said. “This is not to say we’ll do a defined number of things. We’ll do absolutely everything if we feel it helps our partners grow their business."

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