Paytm, or One 97 Communications, is an important player in the financial services ecosystem, and Axis Bank will continue to work with it subject to regulatory forbearance, Axis Bank MD and CEO Amitabh Chaudhry said.
“If, subject to regulatory forebearance, the regulator allows us to work with the player in specific areas based on whatever they are saying, of course we will continue to work with them. They are an important player in the fintech industry, and that is a fact,” he said.
Arjun Chowdhry, Group Executive and Head, Affluent Banking, NRI, Cards & Payments, Axis Bank, said that between their merchant acquisition, wallet, FasTag, and other business verticals, Paytm is a big player in the financial services space, and Axis Bank has been working with them on various aspects.
“We have been working with them in the past on various things, and those aspects continue. New aspects which have come up as a result of the recent developments are also under discussion.”
While discussions keep happening and are ongoing as part of the normal course of business, some “new discussions are happening” post-January 31, but no strategic view has been taken yet, Chowdhry said.
“We will go systematically, business by business, taking approval from the regulator,” he said, adding that the bank’s primary objective is to ensure that ecosystem participants such as merchants, customers, and wallet holders, among others, are not impacted and their operations are not disrupted.
Axis Bank, by itself, has the largest merchant acquiring business in terms of PoS (points of sale), and the bank continues to invest in merchant acquiring, both in PoS and QR codes. The bank has a “large and thriving merchant acquiring business” which has continued to grow regardless of the Paytm developments, he said, adding that the preference is to grow the business organically and in partnership with entities like Paytm should it be “regulatory blessed and should be something which should be mutually beneficial.”
They were speaking at the launch of the third edition of the ‘500 Most Valuable Private Companies in India’ report by Hurun India and Axis Bank’s Burgundy Private.
On the sidelines of the event, Chowdhry clarified that the conversations with Paytm are “about every possible aspect that any financial services provider would have.” Those conversations were happening even before January 31 and will continue. “Whatever business we do, whatever initiatives we kick off with them, will be in consultation with the RBI,” he said.
Speaking on the fintech space in general, Chaudhry said that many fintech unicorns have changed their business model rapidly to pivot their offerings to meet market and customer requirements, which evolve over a period of time.