The Reserve Bank of India’s action against online recharge and bill payment service PayTM has created uncertainty among small businesses and traders who rely on the service for their daily transactions. The RBI has barred Paytm Payments Bank (PPBL), which has over 30 crore wallets and three crore bank accounts, from offering all forms of banking services citing “persistent non-compliances’‘.
“I will use PhonePe and GooglePay after that and make sure all the money from Paytm is transferred to my personal bank account,” said K. Venkateshwar owner of Tirumala General and Kirana store in Ramanthapur. He had his Paytm linked with his personal bank account and plans to discontinue Paytm services a few days before the deadline.
At least a dozen small merchants including owners of general stores, stationery, spare parts shops, bakeries, hotels and vendors that The Hindu spoke to seemed ‘not so worried’ about business transactions post February 29, thanks to alternative Unified Payments Interface platforms.
Most of the traders use Paytm as a point-of-sale device only, in which case the money has already been transferred to company or personal bank accounts. However, concerns remain for those who have a bank account with PPBL, through which a bulk of transactions for its huge merchant base of about 3.93 crore were conducted.
However, organisations of traders are still wary. “This is not an easy exercise. Transferring millions of merchant QR codes and migration of these accounts to partner banks is a mammoth task and cannot be done before the deadline, which is worrying for the traders,” said Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
“Transactions involving millions of rupees were conducted without proper identification, raising concerns about money laundering,” Mr Khandelwal further said.
While the issue has brought to light the challenges in the digital payment landscape, Mr. Khandelwal argued there is no deficit of trust in digital payments among merchants. “This will only make them more cautious while choosing to switch over to other platforms,” he said.
Wallet of woes beginning to unfold
Some business owners and customers reported some issues with the QR code in the last few days — where “transactions were not reflected into the merchant’s bank accounts even after debit from the customer’s account.” The Hi-Tech City and Saidabad branches of Ratnadeep, a hyperlocal supermarket chain with stores across Telangana and Karnataka, have been experiencing such issues, the cashiers attested.
Sarnamma, a fruit vendor, who had availed a loan from PPBL last year, has discontinued services already. “The bank has been deducting interest amount even after the repayment of loan,” she said, highlighting that the company did not get back to her when she raised concerns about the same.
Another looming fear is related to the automatic debit and credit transactions from the wholesalers and manufacturers into the merchant accounts.