Flush with funds from Japan’s SoftBank, India’s second-most valuable startup Paytm is on the verge of another acquisition. And this time, it is in the online travel space. Paytm, which has set ambitious targets for its own travel and hospitality division (that consists of air, bus, train and hotel bookings), is said to be in talks with Bengaluru-based travel portal Via.com. The deal if goes through will value Via.com at close to $80 million, ET reported.
This comes just a day after reports emerged that Google Flights, Google’s flight-search application, had partnered with domestic travel ticketing site Cleartrip to expand its presence in India — where the online travel market is projected to grow to $48 billion by 2020, according to a Google-BCG report. Paytm, of course, is emerging as one of the leaders with its travel business clocking $500 million in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) earlier this year, riding on 2 million ticket bookings a month. ALSO READ: Google Flights partners with Cleartrip to expand in India’s air travel market: Report
Now, the Noida-based company has set itself a target of 10 million monthly bookings, and a GMV of $2 billion by next March. The Via.com acquisition will help further Paytm’s cause and expand its footprint across more hotel and airline operators, listings, offers and more. Via.com, earlier known as FlightRaja, is a ten-year-old startup and counts Sequoia Capital as one of its investors. It has nearly 1 lakh active travel partners with a particularly strong presence in Asia. It services nearly 13,000 zipcodes in India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. “Over 1 million customers use our app,” Via.com claims on its website. ALSO READ: Paytm to now focus on travel, hotels and movie ticketing with multiple offers and discounts
Late last month, Via.com started the Via Bug Bounty Program that encourages security research in Via software and rewards those who help create the safest platform for customers to transact on. “Any design or implementation issue that substantially affects the confidentiality or integrity of user data is likely to be in scope for the program,” Via.com said on its blog. Surely Via.com’s focus on providing a safe, secure and seamless ticket booking platform fits well with Paytm that has prided itself for delivering a good customer experience. Both companies are yet to issue any statement on this.