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The Great Fintech Fiasco: What Lies Ahead for Paytm, Partners & You?

Paytm Payments Bank's regulatory non-compliance, despite RBI warnings, spells big trouble for Vijay Shekhar. Will its popular digital wallet business sustain the crisis? What lessons can startups learn? Get answers to all these questions in TICE TV video.

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Swati Dayal
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Paytm Payments Bank's failure to comply with regulations and supervisory concerns, despite RBI warnings over the last two years, has placed the company in deep trouble on all fronts. The bank has been prohibited from accepting deposits after February 29, marking only the beginning of its troubles. The stock market debacle has resulted in a staggering USD 2 billion reduction in its market value, with the company's valuation now standing at USD 3.7 billion.

Meanwhile, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm's founder and CEO, took to X (formerly known as Twitter) and assured partners, saying, 'To every Paytmer, your favorite app is working and will continue to work beyond 29 February as usual. I, along with every Paytm team member, salute you for your relentless support. For every challenge, there is a solution, and we are sincerely committed to serving our nation in full compliance. India will keep winning global accolades in payment innovation and inclusion in financial services, with PaytmKaro as the biggest champion of it.'

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Is Paytm's Wallet Business Safe?

Media reports even suggest a crisis looming over the sustainability of the fintech's digital wallet business. Operating the wallet business may not be as straightforward, given that Paytm Payments Bank holds the license. Transferring this license back to Paytm post RBI's approval appears to be a challenging task.

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Consequently, Paytm Payments Bank's digital wallet business might have to cease operations after February 29 unless India's central bank approves the transfer of its license to the parent group, One 97 Communications (PAYT.NS).

Some reports even suggest that certain banks are skeptical about collaborating with Paytm following the central bank's raised concerns.

Paytm's Stock Market Debacle: It'sThe Bear and All Bear for the Fintech

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Paytm shares, which stood at 487.2 rupees on Friday, near record lows from 2022, value the company at $3.7 billion.

Another blow to the fintech is its digital highway toll payment service, FASTag, which users will be unable to replenish after February 29, 2024. Paytm currently holds a significant 17% share of that market.

The Ripple Effect of RBI's Warnings

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Last year, the RBI fined Paytm Payments Bank $650,000 for non-compliance, including violations of "know your customer" rules. In 2022, the bank was barred from acquiring new customers, and a comprehensive IT system audit was mandated.

These developments followed Paytm's lackluster stock market listing, raising concerns about the company's valuation, intricate business model, and slow path to profitability.

While the way the crisis unfolds in the future is yet to be seen, TICE News spoke with Mr. Yatish Rajawat, a Senior Policy Commentator, about the root cause of Paytm's problems, why they occurred, their impact on the ecosystem, and the lessons they teach to startups.

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In a recent turn of events, Paytm, a leading fintech player, faces a severe regulatory setback that has sent shockwaves through the industry.

Yatish RajawatTICE News had an in-depth conversation with Yatish Rajawat, a distinguished Policy Expert, shedding light on the root causes, impacts, and lessons to be learned from this crisis.

Understanding the Regulatory Non-Compliance

Yatish Rajawat says, "The problem is basically not complying with RBI's norms, particularly related to KYC. Two years ago, Paytm's payment bank faced restrictions, and now, the bank is set to become non-functional due to its failure to adhere to RBI regulations. All transactions between Paytm wallet and the bank will cease after February 29th."

Echoes of RBI Notice on Paytm

Rajawat outlined three major impacts on Paytm. Firstly, the RBI's actions resulted in a collapse  Create of Paytm's share prices. Secondly, it created dissonance among Paytm's core customer base, concerned about transaction capabilities. Thirdly, the Paytm Payments Bank, once a key asset for Paytm, will effectively cease to function post the RBI's deadline.

Lessons for the Fintech Ecosystem

Rajawat expressed, "This crisis is a lesson for fintech startups. Paytm, as a listed and regulated entity, highlights the importance of good governance practices. Startups must build compliant and robust systems from day one to avoid regulatory pitfalls in the long term."

Repercussions on Startup Investments

For Paytm, a listed entity with retail and institutional investors, this crisis may prompt a reevaluation of investments. Rajawat stressed that Paytm must reassure investors about implementing better systems, proactive compliance measures, and a commitment to addressing gaps.

He emphasized that startups now face challenges in raising funds if their governance processes are not up to par. The importance of a robust DNA and governance model from the inception of a startup was underscored.

In the wake of Paytm's regulatory challenges, the incident serves as a stark reminder for startups to prioritize compliance and governance for sustainable growth and investor confidence.

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