Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma talks to InfraCircle on the sidelines of an event on "petroleum retailing and the road ahead". Edited excerpts:
How prepared was Paytm prior to the demonetisation announcement?
We were building a bank and this sort of came in the middle of it so we didn't have much concerns. Moreover, we are expanding exponentially, therefore more the work the better it is. Paytm was always prepared for an announcement of this nature and volume. It got our business and our product to be more widely used and accepted.
What measures were taken by Paytm to cater to the volume of consumers, especially in these times?
First of all, we expanded immediately into multi-lingual system and we also started to sign up merchants and we converted into 'do-it-yourself' merchant system and quickly reached various government bodies and daily utilities and everyday use cases. So we think we are doing it more aggressively now.
Once things stabilise and the liquidity gets restored to normal, how will Paytm attract consumers?
This is the time when consumers are experiencing the advantages of digital payments, mobile payments, Paytm, the QR code structure and process. I believe that a large numbers of consumers will remain. Moreover, in a scenario such as this, where consumers more often than not have to adhere to cashless payments, a lot of consumers, who were sceptical about it earlier, are shifting to this form of transaction. And I believe the advantages and feasibility will make them stay even after cash requirements stabilise.
Was Paytm expecting this big a turnout?
We always targeted this (in terms of audience reach) but the current change in the currency structure has enabled a speedy shift to this mode of payment.
What are Paytm's plans for the petroleum sector?
Our plan is to expand to all petrol pumps and all retail stations by mid-December. I know that is an audacious one, but that's what we are targeting.