Amazon Bids for Indian Payments Business FreeCharge

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Amazon.com Inc. has made a bid to acquire Indian digital payments startup FreeCharge from e-commerce operator Snapdeal, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The offer is worth between $50 million to $80 million, the person said, asking not to be identified as the negotiations are private. Snapdeal’s parent Jasper Infotech Pvt is in talks with multiple other parties, including Axis Bank Ltd. and One97 Communications-owned Paytm Payments Bank, the person said.

Amazon is trying to buttress its digital payments operations as it takes on local rivals including Paytm E-commerce Pvt as well as Tiger Global Management-backed Flipkart Online Services Pvt. The U.S. company has entered its fifth year of operations in India as the country shapes up to become of the world’s largest online retail markets.

In April, Amazon secured a license from the Reserve Bank of India to operate a digital wallet. Acquiring FreeCharge would help the Seattle-based company expand its technology into point-of-sale and other uses. The company last year hired former Citibank executive Sriraman Jagannathan to head its digital payments business in India and recently invested $20 million into the business.

Amazon said in an emailed statement that it doesn’t comment on rumor and speculation. Snapdeal, FreeCharge, Paytm and Axis didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking details. Amazon’s interest in FreeCharge was reported earlier by the Economic Times.

The development comes as Snapdeal is said to be in talks to combine with Flipkart.

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