“Nothing can be further from the truth.”
This may be a phrase for anyone at Paytm sometime back, but this is how the Vijay Shekhar Sharma led company is defending itself against the Cobra Sting video, which has gone viral in last 24 hours.
In a recent blog post, the company has given a full page clarification and has cleared its stance on the situation.
As stated, “We never share your data with anyone: any company/ any government or any country. At Paytm, your data is yours. Not ours, or of a third party, or of the government.”
The video is still circling the media corridors. The sting titled ‘Operation-136 II’, was carried out by investigative news outlet Cobra Post. It is a 13-minute long video that shows Sudhanshu Gupta, VP Paytm and Ajay Shekhar who is the Senior VP at Paytm, discussing a deal with an undercover journalist Pushp Sharma, at the same time disclosing they were requested by the government to give user data.
As revealed from various social media posts, the people have also started deleting Paytm app and are supporting campaigns like #DeletePaytm and Paytm means ‘Pay to Modi.
However, in its blog, Paytm has claimed that its policy allows ONLY legally compliant data requests through a thorough process from law of the land to get access to data for necessary investigations. Paytm has also claimed that any person claiming or talking otherwise is not aware of the policy and is not authorised to speak on behalf of the company.
“To further clarify, in the past, we have neither received requests nor shared any data without a legally compliant request from a bonafide agency and through proper process and channels. You can be sure, we have never shared, nor will share your data with anyone whom you never gave us permission to share with. This is the holy grail of trust between us.”
With investors like SoftBank and Alibaba betting millions of dollars on the company, and the players like WhatsApp, Amazon, Google, etc entering the UPI bandwagon, the negative air can potentially make life difficult for Paytm. This could also also be setback for the companies ambitions of building a product to be used all over the world , it has in the past said it wants to expand to markets such as the US, Japan and Europe and especially with GDPR coming into force the same day this story broke the company will have to recalibrate how it wants to achieve that goal.
This also marks the first time in India that a tech company has found itself embroiled in a controversy that is so political in nature and magnitude. We have seen examples of this happen in the West where conversations and issues arising out of the tech giants find prominence in mainstream discussion and there is a greater scrutiny of the role they play in society but in India we have had few if any discussions relating to that but this latest development could be the starting point for us to begin having that conversation.