Paytm to set up 1,000 branded ATMs?

Paytm, India’s largest digital wallet player, is reportedly planning to set up 1,000 ATMs across the country under a branding tie-up with Tata Communications Payment Solutions Ltd.

Although Tata Communications did not confirm the news, the network connectivity provider said it has a “co-branding alliance” with a “leading payments bank recognized as India’s largest digital wallet player, headquartered in Noida” for deploying around 1,000 ATMs spanning 18 states.

The other big wallet company in India, PhonePe, is based out of Bangalore.

The move, if confirmed, signals a heightening focus for the wallet company, which, two years ago, became one of the first players in India to get a ‘payments bank’ license from the RBI.

Tata Communications already has a ‘white label’ ATM business, under which it undertakes all the capital expenses required to set up the ATMs. Other companies have the option of tying up with Tata Com to brand these ATMs as their own. These ATMs can be used by customers of any bank in India.

It is not clear if PayTM customers will be eligible for extra free transactions in co-branded cash machines.

Sanjeev Patel, CEO of Tata Communications Payment Solutions Limited, calls it a “pioneering & disruptive” model aimed at “banks that are nimble and far sighted”.

He says the co-branding model “spells the beginning of the end” for the “commitment and capex heavy” traditional ATM model.

“With this model’s inherent operational and cost benefits, they [banks] will be able to rapidly advance their ATM-cum-brand reach,” he said.

He said the model is similar to what is seen in developed economies and is likely to be adopted by “plugged-in, customer-centric banks”.

In addition to the co-branded network, Tata Communications Payments Services also has its own brand of ATMS, known as ‘Indicash’.

Tata Com claims that its Indicash network is the second largest ATM network across semi urban and rural markets in India, after SBI, and the eighth largest ATM network in the country with over 8,000 ATMs in 5,000 towns and villages in 21 states.

Launched in 2010, Paytm has grown from a simple online mobile recharge and bill payment platform to a major e-commerce system with more than 250 million registered users in a span of nine years.

In addition to these actual ATMs, PayTM also has cash points — known as ‘Paytm ka ATM’, which are essentially small shops and other trade partners of the wallet company.