TOKYO -- PayPay, a fast-growing Japanese mobile payment app backed by SoftBank Group, can go public anytime, a SoftBank executive said on Thursday.
Ken Miyauchi, CEO of SoftBank's mobile arm SoftBank Corp., said in an earnings press conference that he was approached by a brokerage about a proposal for taking PayPay public. When asked whether PayPay has the potential to be valued as a unicorn -- a company worth $1 billion or more -- he said it is "not even close," indicating that the figure could be far higher.
Fueled by funding from SoftBank and its group companies, as well as engineers from India's Paytm, PayPay has aggressively expanded its mobile payment app since launching more than two years ago. It has racked up 35 million users and about 2.8 million merchants, making it the largest QR code-based payment player in a country where cash is still the dominant payment method. PayPay does not disclose the value of the payments it processes.
By hiring thousands of sales staff and charging razor-thin fees to attract merchants, PayPay has also racked up more than $1 billion in cumulative losses. Regarding a potential timing for a listing, Miyauchi said, "By U.S. standards, it can go public anytime," adding that Japan is among the few stock markets that favor profitable companies. He said the appeal of PayPay is "the pace growth in customers."
"Once customers are acquired, it is easier to become profitable," Miyauchi said. He stressed that SoftBank has made no decision on floating the company.
A listing may deliver another windfall for SoftBank, which has been aggressively selling assets during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also be a gauge of investor appetite for fintech companies after China's Ant Group scrapped its initial public offering plans last year.
Last week, SoftBank Corp. said Chief Technology Officer Junichi Miyakawa will replace Miyauchi as CEO in April. Miyauchi, who will become chairman, said he will still continue to be actively involved in launching new businesses like PayPay.
"I am not retiring," he said.