Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav recently conferred Yash Bharti awards upon 73 noted personalities in diverse fields, including social work, sports and literature. One of the recipients, Paytm Founder & CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, in an exclusive interview shares his company’s plans with Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN).
How do you view getting appreciated by the Uttar Pradesh government with Yash Bharti award, one of the most coveted state award?
I feel very good that the Uttar Pradesh government has chosen someone from the IT and start up background for this award. Only a young CM like Akhileshji could select such a person. I am from Uttar Pradesh. Whenever I give speeches and tell them that I am Hindi-speaking, people get surprised because in technology field people generally speak English and come from a different background but I feel it is not necessary.
Paytm has brought revolution in digital and mobile banking. What is your plan for Uttar Pradesh in this segment?
UP is one of the few states which has a tremendous opportunity for financial inclusion and through mobile technology we believe, we will be able to bring our bank and former financial services to a large segment of people. For 2020, our target is that UP should not lag behind in financial inclusion in comparison to other states. Instead, it should achieve 100 % financial inclusion.
You started from mobile banking, now paytm has touched almost all the sectors. Do you think you will be able to achieve the target you have set for 2020?
It is quite possible because Indians are focusing on internet and digital world through smart phones and the early acceptance of consumers with one app can expand to other categories. We believe that we are a transaction platform. Like on google you can find any website, on Paytm you can transact everything. I do believe that with the kind of demography and the penetration of smartphones we are seeing it is very much possible.
How prepared are you to face security challenges?
One of the things which we have learned is that technology companies like Paytm have the biggest risk of security and safety. It is not only about how your servers are kept, it is how gullible your customer is because a lot of people pretend to call on behalf of banks, take their OTPs. We have been able to take that as a problem and built bottom up solutions for India which we believe can be a solution for the world as well. I am very proud of what our team is building.
There is a huge competition in the Indian market, how do you perceive it?
I think the opportunity in India is so huge that instead of rivalry, I believe, everybody has to contribute to the ecosystem. It cannot be a few companies’ game.
UP has tremendous opportunity for financial inclusion and through mobile technology we will be able to bring our bank and former financial services to a large segment of people.
In alignment with the digital India, what is your contribution to different sectors like health, education, governance etc.?
Connectivity and financial services are the two basic fabrics of anything you want to deliver. And then come information, communication and health. We are building the foundation platform. We are investing in these companies, bringing such products on our platform. So right now we are focused on payments. Not just healthcare and education, we are also talking about farming, rural focus applications there.