How Paytm's Setback Becomes a Boon for Its Rival

How Paytm's Setback Becomes a Boon for Its Rival
How Paytm's Setback Becomes a Boon for Its Rival

A limitation on Paytm's ability to engage in banking operations beyond February 29 by India's Reserve Bank has put the country's fintech behemoth in a bind.

Paytm, which was started in 2010 by Vijay Shekhar Sharma—who became famous as the face of digital payments following demonetization—is currently unable to process deposits, FASTag transactions, or credit transactions through any of the main financial institutions.

As they say “Someone’s loss is another person’s gain”! Exactly on the same lines the rival fintech companies are scripting their new expansion stories. Businesses that accept Paytm as payment have been approached by field agents from companies including Google Pay, Yes Bank, HDFC Bank, and PhonePe. To get a piece of this burgeoning industry, SBI is also actively engaging with domestic and international tech companies to extend its sound box network.

The development has shocked users. The Paytm website claims that the company's customer base in India exceeds 300 million people. Following its first public offering in 2021, the company's finances began to deteriorate. Building a sizable loan book, it has been attempting to become profitable and expand into additional segments ever since. Laid off 1,000 workers over a few months is another cost-cutting measure.

Brand Value Gone for a Toss
Latching to the Opportunity

Brand Value Gone for a Toss

According to specialists in the field who spoke with various media outlets, Paytm's credit operations have nearly stopped and earnings streams have come to a standstill as a result of the regulatory crackdown. This is happening even though probes into the firm are still ongoing. 

After facing serious allegations, industry analysts predict the company may face the loss of its licence. Paytm is a shining light in India's startup scene, and if that happens, it would be a black day for them. Until 2022, the business served as the official title sponsor of all cricket matches played by the BCCI, both at the international and domestic levels. In 2023, it partnered with Ticketmaster for the Indian Premier League playoffs and final.

This disaster has occurred just as investment in the financial technology sector has begun to decline. According to a Tracxn FinTech Report, the third-highest funded ecosystem in the world—India's fintech sector—saw a 63% drop in funding to $2 billion in 2023 from $5.40 billion the year before.

Latching to the Opportunity

According to industry watchers, if Paytm goes under, customers may go to other financial apps, which would be good for their competitors.

Amid the continuing crises, news surfaced recently that Mukesh Ambani's Jio Financial Services Ltd was among the leading bidders for Paytm's wallet business, sending shares of Jio soaring by more than 15%.

"It would appear that businesses and customers are increasingly turning to alternative QR code platforms, UPI, and wallet transactions as a result of the aforementioned RBI injunction against Paytm." According to Aviral Jain, Managing Director, Valuation Advisory Services at Kroll, "This disruption period could be short-lived if Paytm can resolve quickly," meaning that competitors of Paytm have a good chance to gain a larger portion of the market.

From a business-to-business standpoint, the effect is more on the company's bottom line than on Paytm's reputation, albeit the latter will feel the effects in the medium run. Paytm must instill extra trust in its customers to avoid irreparable harm to its brand during this period of interruption, as Jain pointed out that gaining customers' trust takes time.

For Paytm's senior executives, the most pressing issue is calming nervous investors and forming alliances with financial institutions to support its Unified Payments Interface (UPI), wallet, and other merchant services. The firm also has the difficult challenge of transferring loan repayment customers from Paytm Payments Bank to other banks.

The top bank is already pressuring financial institutions to increase their net interest margins and reduce their high loan-to-deposit ratio; Paytm may encounter resistance from hesitant banks even if it simplifies these difficulties.

Additionally, there is the issue of a significant lack of end-user communication, which may eventually cause a retention problem. Nevertheless, the senior executives of Paytm assert that they are fully aware of the situation and want to implement a comprehensive marketing and communication campaign to alleviate these concerns and redirect users to partner institutions.

In the meantime, 42% of Indian Kirana stores have begun accepting payments through other applications, according to a Kirana Club poll. According to the research, Paytm used to have over 69% of the Kirana shop market. The poll also uncovered another shocking fact regarding the level of trust that local retailers have in Paytm. Some 42% of Kiranas have shifted to utilizing different payment apps, and 20% more have said they plan to do so soon. Among merchants that have implemented or are considering implementing alternative payment apps, 50% have opted for PhonePe, 30% are leaning towards Google Pay, and 10% are leaning towards BharatPe.

RBI: No Fintech Industry Concerns Arise from Paytm Actions
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reassured that the recent decision to prevent Paytm Payments Banks from accepting deposits is a result of a supervisory action, with restrictions aligned to the seriousness of the situation.

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