On Monday, digital payments company Paytm announced the launch of Paytm Food Wallet, for companies to roll out instant, tax-free food allowances to employees.
Earlier this process was highly dependent on meal vouchers and coupon players like Sodexo and Ticket Restaurant. However, in March this year, the RBI released guidelines asking meal coupon operators to be digitised by the end of 2017.
Paytm Food Wallet allows employers to pass on food allowance to employees under the government-approved tax-redemption bracket. ‘The ‘food wallet’ will be available in the Paytm app, and the food allowance passed on to employees will be digital, eliminating risks of loss or expiry, said the official blog.
This digitisation of the process further eliminates the hassles of procuring, handling, and distributing bulky coupons and cards, the company says.
At present, the food wallet can be redeemed at office cafeterias and a wide range of online and physical merchants including KFC, Burger King, Zomato, Pizza Hut, Café Coffee Day, and Big Bazaar, among others. Further, the setup also allows employees to cash in on additional benefits including exclusive deals, discounts, and cashbacks.
Along with the food wallet, the firm has launched a ‘nearby’ feature on the Paytm app which allows users and employees to locate the closest food outlets. The food wallet balance will appear under the passbook option of the Paytm app.
The wallet balance is also redeemable at grocery stores, supermarkets, fast food joints, fine dining restaurants, and pubs, according to the FAQs on the blog.
Moreover, employers can opt for daily, monthly, or quarterly payout options.
Paytm is not the first digital payments player to have touched upon digital meal vouchers. In March, MobiKwik announced the launch of its product ReMP, which automates HR reimbursements like food, travel, and medical expenses for employees quickly and easily with the wallet.
Further, today MediaNama reported that meal voucher and employee benefits company Sodexo is also going digital through the issuance of its prepaid cards and setting up a proprietary acceptance network in the country.
Suvodeep Das, Vice-President of Marketing, told the news website that before launching their card, the company set up their own proprietary acceptance network across 30,000 terminals, in 700 cities, around the country.
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