03:32 GMT30 May 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India is currently under a lockdown till 3 May as part of measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 contagion. The pandemic has claimed 1,074 lives in India, according to the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

    The Covid-19 lockdown has had an impact across business sectors. Digital payments platforms are also witnessing a number of challenges in terms of bookings in the entertainment and travel sectors. However, the lockdown due to the pandemic has also opened up new opportunities for digital payments companies. India’s major digital payment firm Paytm, for instance, has seen an increase in medical and insurance payments, among others.

    Paytm's Senior Vice-President Amit Veer told Sputnik that the company has experienced a surge in online gaming, OTT content and video apps. He also said with Paytm being a homegrown Indian company, the new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy will not have any bearing on it, explaining that the country's new FDI policy bars any investment from Chinese firms into an Indian company without permission from the Central government.   

    Sputnik: Has Paytm seen any significant increase in digital payments as a result of RBI’s suggestion for people to use digital modes of payment due to social distancing?

    Amit Veer: During the ongoing lockdown, we are seeing increased adoption of digital payments for essential payments such as recharges, utility payments, insurance premiums, among others. In fact, more users are relying on varied payment use-cases available on the Paytm app and our teams are ensuring to increase the partnerships. We are confident more Indians will now understand the convenience of digital payments and develop the habit as well.

    Sputnik: So what is the company’s experience in terms of data on digital transactions?

    Amit Veer: India is embracing digital payments and making it part of their lives and a life-long habit. During the lockdown period, people have been making digital payments. We have seen a 30 percent increase in groceries and the same increase in payments in pharmacies. A 15 percent increase in spending for milk has been seen. As far as the user base is concerned, we have seen a 200 percent growth in the user base during the lockdown. Also, Paytm's had 50000 new sign-ups take place every day. Between 22 March and 15 April, 90 kilograms of gold have been purchased on the Paytm platform and 50 percent have been witnessed in insurance policy purchases. Recharges for DTH, data card and mobile have also seen growth in the period.

    Sputnik: How is rural India reacting to digital payments? Please share data on new Paytm users from rural markets.

    Amit Veer: Rural India is the backbone of our country and plays an integral role in India's overall growth and development. Paytm has been striving to promote financial inclusion and banking services in rural India and the results have been remarkable so far. We have expanded our services through the length and breadth of rural India. This has immensely helped during this ongoing COVID-19 crisis. More people in rural India have embraced Paytm's services during this lockdown and have been safely paying for utilities online. In fact, now they prefer scanning Paytm QR at their nearby Kirana (grocery) stores, and merchants are also happily accepting digital payments.

    Sputnik: How is Paytm ensuring the smooth functioning of its businesses amid COVID-19?

    Amit Veer: For us, it’s business as usual. We are working from home and doing our best to provide a seamless payment experience to our country. In fact, we have taken various initiatives, from collecting contribution for the PM Cares Fund to feeding minimum wage workers. Many of our colleagues have also contributed their salaries to this cause. We have ensured that the many frontline workers protecting us have masks and hygiene products are available. 

    Sputnik: Is there any specific reason for the 200% volume increase in broadband and data card bill payments?

    Amit Veer: This growth can be directly attributed to the massive increase in data consumption, as more people are working from home during the lockdown. Also, online gaming, OTT content and video apps have seen a surge in both users and per session log-in time.

    Sputnik: What will be the impact of new FDI guidelines, under which government permission has to be taken for investments from Chinese firms?

    Amit Veer: Being a homegrown Indian company, the new FDI policy has no impact on us. As you are aware, post our last fundraiser, we are well-capitalised to serve new-age financial services to our fellow countrymen in India and continue our journey towards India's financial inclusion.

    Sputnik: With the entertainment and travel sector being impacted in the post-Covid-19 world, which are the new segments where you see growth?

    Amit Veer: Paytm Insider has moved towards online events, which are gaining traction. We are confident that these two verticals will bounce back stronger.

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