Friday, March 2, 2018

Paytm: Why I Will Quit Using This e-Wallet Service w.e.f March 2018?

Paytm has been a revolutionary IT services start up company in India founded by a young Indian engineer, Vijay Sekhar Sharma, in 2010. Starting services for mobile recharges online, the company has migrated step by step to an e-market place. Its potential has been too attractive that global e-commerce giants like Jack Ma's Alibaba has reportedly invested heavily in this Indian start up venture.

I have been a Paytm user for the last about 2 years and I have found the Paytm android App a very useful e-payment facility for making small payments for mobile post paid recharges, movie ticket booking, railway ticket online payments, etc. Adding money to the e-wallet of Paytm has also been hassle free unlike many other e-wallets that came later.

Whatever the money making model of Paytm, it has been quite beneficial to its young founder, that he made huge money in a short span of time catapulting him to the  Forbe's List of  global billionaires . Money naturally brings power and Paytm founder is also reportedly one of the very powerful persons in India as of now.

An year ago, when the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi declared his partial demonetization drive, Paytm was reportedly told as one of the main beneficiaries of the move as the move was to give high boost to e-wallet services.

In the beginning, common people like me, never understood the process of operating e-wallets and payments through e-wallets. Though Paytm had been advertising heavily for making payments to small time purchases using its mobile App, people like me hardly found any retailer actually accepting payments through it even in a highly literate and urbanized state like Kerala, where I live now.

Being a senior citizen with a technical background who has always been trying to keep pace with the developments  in the digital world, I consider myself quite competent to adapt to the developments that keep happening in the digital space. Yet I have been finding my self slipping out of it every now and then. So, it is not difficult for me to gauge the discomfort of the large number of old and not so literate people on account of the forceful growth of digital systems around them.

Using digital systems for entertainment and personal communication is one thing they may like, but using digital systems for financial transactions and other such things where lot of security aspects are involved is another thing altogether. 

And when the government too acts like a novice and comes up with stupid rules and regulations every now and then, people of India feel like running away and hiding in the deep woods!

e-Wallets have not yet become very popular in India. If I understood it as a user point of view, the e-wallet market place is just trying to establish their foot prints and trying to make people comfortable with its use.

Now comes the stupid governmental regulation. The India government regulators recently mandated that all e-wallet services to fulfill KYC (Know-Your-Customer) norms immediately. No e-walleting is possible later than 1st March 2018 if KYC norms are not fulfilled!

Utter stupidity, isn't it?

I know that most people will not be able to tell whether it is something stupid or not immediately as they have not even tried using e-wallets.

But the e-wallet company people might be cursing the Indian government regulators for sure!

Now let us see how they are going to do it and the process as seen from the customer side as well.

I will elaborate my own experience.

My Paytm App in mobile had been enticing me to stock  up to Rs.20000/- in my Paytm e-wallet by sending me notifications to that effect earlier. But during the last one year or so, when I had been a user of it, I hardly find any opportunity to make payments through it for my retail shops and suppliers, except perhaps the mobile companies. So I never kept more than Rs. 1000 in my e-wallet.

Yesterday, when I wanted to recharge one of my mobile phones and I wanted to transfer Rs.1000 to my Paytm wallet from bank using my debit card as usual. Then the Paytm App, as forced by the India government, wanted me to to fulfill the KYC norm through it. It asked me to enter my Aadhaar number, which I did.

Immediately the App collected my details from the Aadhaar data base elsewhere and displayed my address. It prompted me to click OK if it's right, which I did.

The next message literally shocked me. It said to click the convenient time for the company officials to visit me to verify my original Aadhar card or other such original government ID proofs like passport, driving licence, Pan card etc. I laughed to myself at this stupidity of this company. It is quite a common sense to realize that it is not possible for any one to do such a thing!

So when I clicked the time, the next notification promptly appeared. It said that they do not have any facility for such verification in my place and alternatively advised me to visit any customer service center for making it happen.

Both me and they both know that it is not going to happen for most of their current registered users for the time being.

Paytm had been claiming that they have over 240 million registered users in India. But knowledgeable sources put that figure somewhere around 54 million only.

In any case, the new stupid regulation of government of India is going to make that figure dropped to something substantially low in a day!

As a customer, I have decided not to have Paytm any more. I can live without it.

On the other hand, a still bigger player like Amazon too wanted me to fulfill the KYC norm as per the government directive. It wanted me to give my Aadhaar which I gave. And immediately they declared me KYC fulfilled. They did not want to see my card physically and to get a photo copy of the same as it used to be earlier with the banks!

This clearly indicates some undeclared and fishy things that goes behind the scenes. And such things are known to happen always. And that is what makes or kills commerce and commercial organizations in India. Let us not call it corruption. The common people are too common to know all these that goes behind the corridors of power!

Is it reflecting yet another stupidity in the digital administration in India?

Whether yes or no, I feel saying good bye to this kind of digital India. It is much better that way.

Who is trying to make us all stupid?

Stupidity or super intelligence? 

Who knows?