Fintech unicorn Paytm launches slew of initiatives to help people fight COVID-19

Paytm launched ‘India Fights Corona’ campaign in March to collect funds and distribute hygiene products across the country. It also joined hands with hotels to offer accommodation for healthcare professionals.

The COVID-19 outbreak has not only led to a health crisis, but has also impacted people at social and economic levels. The economic slowdown, jobs loss, rising prices, shortage of protective gears, etc., have only added to people’s woes, forcing them, especially the labour community, to migrate back to their hometowns for survival.

Credit: Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Official Twitter Handle

In such difficult times, Noida-based fintech unicorn Paytm, over the last few weeks, has launched several initiatives to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking to YourStory, a Paytm spokesperson revealed that in March, the company launched ‘India Fights Corona’ campaign in partnership with Lifebuoy and Yuvraj Singh’s YouWeCan, in order to collect funds and donate hygiene products in remote areas across the country.

“Paytm’s philosophy has always been to be a ‘People First’ company. When COVID-19 made its unfortunate entry into India, we immediately discussed offering support to people who might not have the means to fight this pandemic alone. Our founder and CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, along with the senior management, motivated the teams to come up with innovative solutions to help citizens during the pandemic,” the spokesperson said. 

Giving back to the society

The company said, it has distributed around four lakh masks and 10 lakh hygiene products such as soaps and handwash till date as a part of its ‘India Fights Corona’ campaign. Apart from this, the fintech major claims to have distributed over 75,000 meals to truck drivers across major toll plazas across the country.

“We have also served over 4.4 million free meals to migrants and daily wage workers across cities with the support of various associations. In fact, we learned that meals were not available to millions of passengers on Shramik Express trains, and we immediately reached out to the nearest kitchens to ensure they do not starve while in transit,” the spokesperson said. 

The company said Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma was at the forefront of the initiative, and ensured meals were delivered to the migrant workers. “Our founder wanted to ensure that daily wagers and migrants do not go hungry on his watch. He took a personal interest in ensuring that a maximum number of migrants receive quality food while travelling.” 

In addition to this, the company said Vijay has forgone his salary for two months to support Paytm employees

In the month of April, the fintech company launched its COVID-19 Benefit Insurance Policy in partnership with Reliance General Insurance.

According to the official statement, the policy, with a validity period of one year, was released to reduce financial implications that people might experience due to the pandemic. The policy provides cover against diagnosis, 14-day quarantine, loss of pay or jobs. Apart from this, it also provides a waiver to the 45 days travel exclusion policy as add-ons.

“This policy covers individuals between the ages of three months to 60 years, with a wide range of sum-insured options ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh,” the statement noted.

The fintech company also claims to have partnered with fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s to distribute burgers to the doctors and healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients. Apart from this, Paytm joined hands with OYO, Treebo, and Ginger Hotels, and launched a special hotel listings page on its app to help healthcare professionals with temporary accommodation.

The company has also committed to donate to Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES). The spokesperson said:

“We are also enabling people to donate for the PM CARES fund, and have already collected over Rs 125 crore.” According to the company, the donations were made by the Paytm employees in the form of salary contributions ranging from 15 days of wages to as many months they wanted to contribute. 

The fintech unicron said it is encouraging Paytm users to come and support the nation during this unprecedented time, and has thus introduced a dedicated donation section on the app to help users contribute in this time of adversity. 

Fighting COVID-19 with innovation

While these were some of the external initiatives taken up by the company, it also introduced a slew of services and features on its platform to help consumers make safe and contactless payments.

It has revamped the Paytm apps user interface (UI) with a ‘Stay at home Essential Payments’ feature. It has also launched a COVID-19 Information Centre to keep users up-to-date with verified information from government bodies and health authorities. 

Paytm is also allowing users to take COVID-19 self-assessment test powered by Apollo 24/7, which has been developed on the basis of guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Paytm also unveiled a contactless ticket buying facility for state-run local transport buses.

“We also enabled mobile recharges for feature phones with Vodafone Idea numbers with just a valid UPI ID. We did this in partnership with Vodafone Idea and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to extend this service throughout the country. This service is based on the NPCI’s innovative payment service *99#, which works on the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) channel. It allows mobile banking transactions using basic feature phones without the need of having a mobile internet data facility for using USSD based banking. It is envisioned at the financial inclusion of the underbanked in mainstream banking services,” the spokesperson said.

The company is also considering entering into a strategic partnership to promote the adoption of digital transactions. Amid the COVID-19 situation, the fintech company joined hands with Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to enable digital transactions across its fuel stations as well as LPG cylinder delivery ecosystem.

As India started to open up after two months of lockdown, the company also developed and launched ‘contactless in-store ordering’ technology to enable people to dine and order food safely. It launched ‘Scan to Order’ contactless food ordering and payments across restaurants, coffee shops, and take-away establishments to ensure social distancing and promote safe dining. 

Going beyond its financial solutions model, Paytm is also using innovation to fight fake news and misinformation. To ensure only facts and verified information reaches people, it is now providing free access to over 50 national and regional e-newspapers and magazines on Paytm app. 


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