Aishwarya Ramesh

Paytm raises Rs 50 crore to fight against COVID-19 outbreak, but...

... This isn't the first time the digital payments company has stepped up to support the Indian government in the face of a public emergency.

Jaskaran Kapany, the marketing head of Paytm, took to LinkedIn to announce that the digital payments platform has raised over Rs 30 crore for the PM CARES Fund, which was set up to help those who are suffering from the Coronavirus. This isn’t the first time that the company has stepped forward to help, during a national emergency.

Talking about how the company has been contributing to curb the spread of the virus in India, Madhur Deora, president, Paytm, wrote in a blog post, “We are honoured to do our duty to aid the government in all the relief measures being taken to fight the Corona pandemic. We hope our users wholeheartedly donate to the PM CARES Fund and help save lives. We will also contribute up to Rs 10 for every payment transaction using the Paytm app and instruments. This money would be directly sent to the PM CARES Fund. Paytm commits to doing everything in its power to support the efforts of our Government in coming out of this crisis.”

In the same post, the company also announced the creation of a Rs 5 crore fund for innovators, who are developing medical instruments, or medicines to combat the virus.

Back in 2019, Paytm announced that it had captured 70 per cent market share amongst all mobile apps for BFSI payments. The company claimed this was possible, thanks to the introduction of facilities to pay EMI loan, credit card bill, and insurance premium on its app. While other players in the digital payments market, such as Google Pay, PhonePe, etc., offer similar features – Paytm still holds a majority stake. In fact, Paytm has become synonymous with digital payments in India, often being used as a verb. The brand capitalised on this factor by introducing a new company tagline ‘Paytm Karo’. The same blog post claims that Paytm is the single largest platform for BFSI payments, and that it recorded over 50 million transactions within a year of its launch.

How did Paytm get to this position?

On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a move to demonetise 80 per cent of the nation’s currency. “The Prime Minister’s demonetisation announcement came around 8 p.m. on November 8, and we knew we had to be prepared for the sudden surge the following day. We saw a great opportunity to inform our fellow Indians about the convenience of Paytm, but it had to be done fast,” read the company's blog post at that time.

Paytm mentioned in the post that it designed media creatives (print and online), booked the media space within an hour, and recorded over 10 radio spots within an hour or two. The company also took out a full page newspaper ad congratulating the PM for the initiative. The ad found its way to the front jacket of 20 major newspapers across India. The marketing team also ensured a takeover of banner ad space on all major sites.

Paytm's full page newspaper ad
Paytm's full page newspaper ad

Paytm had every reason to back this move. The company saw a substantial increase in its usage numbers in the face of a currency crunch that caught India off guard. People were queuing up outside ATMs, struggling to access money that some had spent their lifetimes accumulating. Shopkeepers and businesses had to find ways to stay afloat and keep their businesses running.

Paytm raises Rs 50 crore to fight against COVID-19 outbreak, but...

So, increasingly, business owners understood that they had to adapt to the new technology, or be left behind. Paytm took the opportunity to ramp up acquisition efforts. "Over 4,000 Paytm agents started onboarding 25,000 offline merchants daily. We also had to make it easier for merchants to reach out to us. We immediately rolled out, a one-stop destination for any merchant willing to accept Paytm," read the blog post.

After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came back to power in 2018, Paytm continued to support the government and aid them with relief efforts in the face of natural disasters. In 2019, when Bihar, Assam and Kerala faced floods, Paytm set up a facility that allowed users to contribute to flood relief efforts directly from the app's interface.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting large parts of India - Paytm announced a revamp of the app's UI, with a new feature titled ‘Stay at home essential payments’. The new design has streamlined payments of daily essential services such as mobile & DTH recharge, electricity, water, gas, credit card, insurance premium, among others.

Paytm's updated interface
Paytm's updated interface

Additionally, Paytm mentioned in a blog post that it has introduced an ‘Information and Help centre’ under a new section titled #IndiaFightsCorona. The company claims this is an effort to offer verified information directly from the government bodies and health authorities to it users.

"This section has a COVID-19 self-assessment scanning powered by Apollo 24/7 developed on the basis of guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. While this scan can't be taken as expert medical advice, it helps people to understand if someone is potentially at risk of suffering from the virus. It asks a set of questions to give a user an idea of how much at risk can they be from the virus," says the company.

When the Coronavirus outbreak first started garnering attention on social media, Kapany shared another post that outlined how using Paytm was a way to make a payment, safely, without transferring germs/spreading the virus further.

Paytm raises Rs 50 crore to fight against COVID-19 outbreak, but...
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