New Delhi: Paytm, the country’s top mobile wallet provider, may have been one of the biggest gainers of the government’s demonetisation drive, but the economic wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is keeping a close watch on the firm’s Chinese connection.
Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), which has been running a relentless campaign against the inflow of Chinese goods and investments in India for some time, has said it will now “study” the relationship between Paytm and Chinese online retailing giant Alibaba Group.
“We have seen several reports about major Chinese stake in Paytm. Now that we are going for cashless transactions, we want to ensure the data shared by Indians is safe. No Indian company should be sharing data with foreign companies and the investment routes should be made very transparent,” said Ashwani Mahajan, co-convener of SJM told ET.
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Alibaba Group’s global managing director K Guru Gowrappan had joined the board of Paytm as an additional director late last month. Alibaba, along with its affiliate Alipay, is believed to own more than 40% of the Noida-based mobile payment service provider, and is expected to use Paytm as its prime vehicle to enter India.
In August, ET had reported that Paytm was in the final stages of closing a $400 m, or about Rs 2,700 cr, funding round where Alibaba and Alipay were expected to participate.
“We are trying to find out what is the extent of the involvement of Chinese investment in Paytm. We are checking the authenticity of some media reports. We will meet the officials of Paytm too, if necessary,” Mahajan said.
He said SJM’s expert members are taking close look at Paytm on a priority basis and that the issue of Chinese ownership in Paytm will be discussed in the organisation’s upcoming meeting in Delhi.
“Depending on our findings we will reach out to the Centre. Make in India is not about goods alone. We are in talks with the government not to allow FDI in ecommerce. We want service providers to be completely Indian,” Mahajan said.
Meanwhile, Paytm Founder and Chief Executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma has told PTI that the payments and e-commerce platform is “as Indian as Maruti” and prides itself on being a representative of the “India story”.
RSS’ economic wing in its annual congregation in Kurukshetra recently had decided to launch a year-long campaign against Chinese goods starting from January.
“We are glad that on November 21, the government decided to put a ban on Chinese plastic goods. We are confident they will listen to our concerns if our study finds issues,” Mahajan said.
Last week, Paytm had introduced a point of sale feature in its app that allowed merchants to accept payments through debit and credit cards with their smartphones as it looked to capitalise on the central government’s decision to demonetise currency notes. However, it was forced to withdraw the same the very next day after several banks raised possible security concerns with the RBI.
“We are concerned about the misuses of data of millions of Indians. It is good that we are going for cashless transactions in a big way but the Centre must come up with its own ways to fund companies such as Paytm,” Mahajan said.
Paytm is valued at about $2.3 billion. While Alibaba Group is the largest investor in Paytm, the Jack Ma-founded online retail behemoth is also an investor in online marketplace Snapdeal, which owns digital payments platform Freecharge, a direct competitor of Paytm.