Railways prefers Paytm over Modi Government’s Bhim App

The decision by Railways to credit <b>₹</b>5 for every plastic bottle dropped in bottle crushers at railway stations to people’s Paytm wallet accounts and not the state-owned BHIM app is questionable

Photo by Parveen Negi/India Today Group/Getty Images
Photo by Parveen Negi/India Today Group/Getty Images
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Vikrant Jha

A purported sting operation by investigate news website Cobrapost revealed sensational details about the mobile wallet application Paytm allegedly sharing user data with the government, in violation of the Information Technology Act.

Now, an instance of Paytm’s great good fortune under the present government has come to light as per a new “Railway offer”: for every plastic bottle dropped in the bottle crusher at all major city railway stations in Bengaluru, the passenger will get ₹5 transferred to their Paytm wallet, reported Times of India. The Bengaluru division of the South Western Railways has already installed the bottle crusher machine at KSR city, Yeshwantpur, Cantonment and Krishnarajapuram stations, while the machine is widely used in railway stations of Ahmedabad, Pune and Mumbai, said the ToI article.

However, one wonders why a government agency like the railways does not make use of state-owned mobile wallet application, the BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) app, instead of private operator Paytm.

Ever since the night of November 8, 2016—when most of the country was forced to queue up outside banks to obtain whatever cash they could get, and small scale businesses especially in the informal economy were destroyed—Paytm’s business has only been growing at a fantastic scale.

BHIM app is directly connected to the user’s bank account and all the transactions happen directly from the bank accounts, which various media houses including CNN News 18 term as a big advantage for the government-owned app over other private mobile wallet applications.

By 2022, BBC had reported in April this year after interviewing Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, “Paytm aims to see a very big chunk of India’s population (half a billion Indians)” use their mobile wallet application. This latest step by Railways will certainly aid the Alibaba backed mobile-wallet company achieve its goal.

Readers may recall that the very next morning after demonetisation was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 8 pm on November 8, a full-page Paytm advertisement featuring the Prime Minister had earned severe criticism for both the company and the PM, and raised suspicions of Opposition leaders. Just 15 days later, reported Financial Express, Paytm touched a new record of 70 lakh transactions. Between November 10, 2016 and December 20, 2016, reported Business Standard, Paytm had an increase of 40 million users.

Indeed, ever since the night of November 8, 2016—when most of the country was forced to queue up outside banks to obtain whatever cash they could get, and small scale businesses especially in the informal economy were destroyed, according to renowned economists including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh—Paytm’s business has only been growing at a fantastic scale.

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