There’s an ongoing fight among the India’s leading digital payment firms over which is more of an “Indian” product. This particular matter has now reached the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Distribution of flyer and pamphlets by Bharatpe, a merchant payments startup, showing Paytm with Chinese flags and PhonePe with US flags, implying that it’s the only ‘Bharatiya’ or ‘Indian’ Company.
This similar messaging can be seen around Amazon Pay and Google Pay too as they are also owned by the US-headquartered multinational giants. Bharatpe indirectly implying that Paytm is a Chinese company with the clarion call of “Swadeshi Apnao, Videshi Hatao”. The move comes during the anti-china sentiments are again on rise over the recent border conflict. In fact, 118 Chinese apps including the prominent game “PUBG” got banned by the Indian Government on Wednesday (2nd September’20).
BharatPe’s action has incensed rivals, especially Paytm and PhonePe, as they compete more directly than others like Amazon and Google Pay. As per the sources, a complaint has been filed by one of the companies with the RBI against BharatPe over the issue.
The BharatPe Co-founder and CEO Ashneer Grover Told TOI, why can’t he showcase the “Indian identity” and that BharatPe comments in its campaign on others are based on the “large strategic shareholding” of the rest of the players. 30% of the stake in firm is held by the founders of BharatPe, including staff shares.
PhonePe is in discussion for being called American in BharatPe campaign because of its parent firm flipkart majorly owned by Walmart-US origin. Strategic shareholding is aimed at Paytm where china’s Alibaba group and its affiliate Ant group holds about 40% stake. Both of these companies i.e. PhonePe and Paytm are run by Indian Founders Vijay Shekar Sharma and Sameer Nigam, respectively.
Grover told TOI, when the government is calling out for Indian innovation and apps, why can’t they showcase the Indian Identity? Through their campaign they just want to achieve that. Their aim is to portray BharatPe as an Indian Company. He added the Sequoia capital-backed startup takes pride in its Indianness and their QR code was redesigned in order to add the Indian Tricolour. Paytm and PhonePe declined to comment, while an email sent to the RBI did not obtain any response.
The matter has been reported to the RBI. This has caught the attention of the rivals over the last one week and may damage perception among merchants, when all firms are expanding to on-board them” a person aware of the matter said. PhonePe has announced that it aims to more than double its merchant base to 25 million in the next 12 months.
Other players are also free to run the campaign to showcase their Indian heritage, added Grover.