Our payments bank is more secure than PSU banks — Paytm chief Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Mobile wallet firm Paytm is not a Chinese or a Japanese company and its new payments bank is even more secure than India’s state-run banks, said founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

Speaking to a packed hall of Mumbai’s business community at ThePrint’s ‘Off The Cuff’ event on Monday, Sharma sought to reassure critics and his millions of customers that even though China’s Alibaba group and Japan’s SoftBank have substantial stake in his firm, Paytm remains essentially an Indian company.

“No Chinese or no foreigner should have control of Indian data,” Sharma said, adding that the country’s strict regulations do not allow data to be accessed by foreigners.

Sharma was speaking to ThePrint’s founder and Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Contributing Editor Mahrukh Inayet.

Taking a dig at the huge bad loans problem of public sector banks, he said that his payments bank cannot invest in “risky assets” under RBI regulations.

“Our bank is far more secure than any nationalised bank. When you deposit your money in Paytm bank, it will be invested only in government bonds, used only for nation-building. This is both a necessity and choice,” Sharma said.

Commenting on the raging nationwide debate around mandatory Aadhaar and data security fears, Sharma said the real concern should be about lack of privacy laws in the country.

“Telecom operators know where your phone is, where you keep it, who you are talking to. We have been ignorant about privacy for years,” he said. “The narrative should shift from Aadhaar to privacy.”

Paytm, which was set up in 2010 and is the largest mobile wallet firm with 220 million customers, launched its new payments bank last week. Sharma is also one of the investors in Printline Media Pvt Ltd.

Responding to an array of questions from the audience that included investors, consultants and entrepreneurs, Sharma spoke about his plans to graduate into a successful financial services company and aggressively capture 500 million customers.

Paytm is seen as among the biggest beneficiaries of the government’s demonetisation decision last November. “If not for demonetisation, it would have taken us at least two more years to get where we are today. We truly believe our teams were crusaders after demonetisation,” he said.

Gearing up to fight big, established banks, Sharma said that his mantra is “no fear, no greed, no entitlement”.

“If we win an inch, they will lose massively,” he said. If the company fails, he added, it will be due to “our dumbness”.

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