He is considered as the rising star of the digital world. While the demonetisation move might have caused discomfort for sectors relying on cash, Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s mobile payment platform Paytm has witnessed almost 700% increase in its customer base post the demonetisation move. Making the most of the customer rush, Paytm has also released payment gateways in 10 regional languages and has introduced its latest android App POS, which will enable ease of payments using credit and debit cards.
With a daily average transaction growth of 140% and the fact that 500,000 users are getting added to the Paytm platform per day, Sharma could not have asked for a better time to realise his big dream of reaching out to 500 million customers in the next couple of years.
Speaking exclusively to exchange4media about Paytm’s post demonetisation move and how this initiative by the government is having a positive impact on the overall business scenario, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO, Paytm also spoke about the future of digital wallets and more.
How would explain the demonetisation move by the government keeping in mind the fact that almost 70% of business is cash dependent?
First of all, Paytm is proud to support the government’s demonetisation move which I believe was long overdue. I don’t deny that the sudden announcement has resulted in a cash crunch and is seen as a painful process, but at the same time this little phase of pain will have huge benefits. This is an opportunity for not just one of us to change for all of us to change as digital is the only way that will push the country forward.
Though cash transactions might be popular but they are not helping the country. Demonetisation is bound to broaden the tax net and thus lower the tax rate in the long run. Also, the fact that we have only a fraction of tax payers out of a population of 1.2 billion makes this move all the more relevant.
How is Paytm benefiting from the move in terms of business volumes and customer engagement?
Currently Paytm has over 15 crore customers across the country, while the number of bank accounts in the country is 55 crore and the number of debit/credit card holders is around 74 crore, and there are around 200 million transactions performed monthly by these card holders. If you look at these numbers, there is a lot of scope to grow in terms of the volume of transactions, especially in the space of Point of Sales machines (POS). There is a shortage of 15 lakh such machines in a country like India which has almost 698K merchants. We are trying to democratise the acceptance of cards and payments in general with the help of our new App POS which will help the merchants to accept payments using debit and credit cards on their smartphones. This will cut down the lengthy process payment and make things simpler for the customers as well as merchants. It took us time to start this especially after realising the incredible acceptance of Paytm by all kinds of merchants and consumers in this country. This year we are expected to clear Rs 300 Billion worth of payments and we are on our way to complete 2 billion transactions this year too. So the scope of the growth is phenomenal.
How will the Paytm’s App POS process work, will it disrupt the payment ecosystem and how?
Firstly this move will empower 15 million merchants across the country by enabling them to accept debit and credit card payments. If you think about it, it is a big change. Moreover, to encourage the use of it, we will not charge any transaction fees on debit cards till December 31, 2016. For now, Paytm’s POS is limited to those merchants who have access to smartphones, a working Internet connection and the app. The feature primarily acts as a payment gateway one would come across while paying online and follows a similar authentication process. However, for security reasons, the feature will not allow a merchant to store the card details of a consumer within the app. This is a huge disruption already as we have empowered the small merchants to accept credit and debit cards with greater ease.
Keeping the huge rush of customer traffic in mind, there have been instances of server outages, how is Paytm trying to address such issues?
We are always prepared to meet such challenges, especially when we have the task to cater to a diverse market. At any moment we are always geared to deal with 10x customer traffic volume and we are also working not just on this issue but also the security features to keep our transactions fast, efficient and reliable.
You are the undisputed leader in your space right now but going forth how do you plan to keep the leadership narrative in place?
As a leader in the payment industry, we have an obligation and duty for this country to continue and give access to all options of digital payment. We don’t want to build a closed system; we want to build an open system which invites everybody. Internally we have a rule here which is: no fear, no greed and no entitlement. Moreover, if the priorities have to be set it has to be in the interest of the country and in the sequence of: country, company and individual. To tell you the truth, we were and never will be dictated by what our competitors are doing and this is the way Paytm will always work.