Paytm Makes Its Biggest Offline Push Yet; Launches Free Public Wifi

Paytm’s recent moves have been evidence that the company doesn’t want to be a merely have an online presence. It’s tied up with everyone ranging from paanwalas and schools for offline payments, its app has a Hindi interface, and it’s now selling movie tickets and gold loans on its site. But its latest initiative takes things to a whole different level. Paytm is planning to launch public Wifi hotspots which will allow people to access their Paytm accounts when they’re on the move.

The pilot program will allow the user to connect to ‘Paytm Wi-Fi’ for 15 minutes and access his Paytm account only. “We are building avenues for our merchants and consumers who do not have access to internet at all times to stay connected with Paytm,” said Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma. He tweeted a screenshot showing the Patym wifi showing up at Noida sector 18.

“Initially we are looking at metros because they are key locations for our consumers and our merchants, especially the auto-rickshaw walas,” he says. 

India’s internet penetration is increasing fast, but mobile data is plagued by slow speeds, and plans that are not affordable for the poorest sections of the society. By having its own wifi connection at strategic public places, Paytm will allow users to access its services while on the go, it will make its product, the Paytm wallet, much more accessible and useful than the competition. Paytm’s wallet is already the most popular wallet in India with over 120 million users.

And Paytm realizes that its expansion could soon be constrained by the number of Indian internet users. If it wants to continue its current growth rate, it needs to make the internet accessible to more people. And while the government is trying its best to get the internet to more people, Paytm is taking matters into its own hands.

When a company has to address problems in the ecosystem surrounding it in order to grow, that’s a sure sign that it has truly arrived.