A week after Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led Paytm staked claim to being the country’s largest Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform, Flipkart’s digital payments arm PhonePe has hit back saying that Paytm’s claim of being the leader is "uni-dimensional and misleading".
In a blog post published on Thursday, PhonePe said that while Paytm had a larger volume of transactions on UPI, the average value per transaction on Paytm was paltry in comparison to its own. Moreover, PhonePe says the total value of UPI transactions it did in February was far higher than Paytm’s.
“We believe that the recent media narrative has been narrowly focussed only on UPI transaction volumes , which only tells half the story,” read the blogpost. “We believe that Paytm’s claim that they are the largest on UPI is both uni-dimensional and misleading.”
Paytm cornered 68 million out of 171 million total UPI transactions in February which translates to 40 per cent of the total transactions. PhonePe on the other hand managed 28 million transactions. However, the company said, the total value of transactions done on its platform at Rs 51.2 billion accounted for over a fourth of the total Rs 191.26 billion that was transacted through UPI in the same month.
By looking at the 21 million transactions where Paytm users sent money to PhonePe users in February, the company said that the average transaction value of the Alibaba-backed firm was just Rs 38. In comparison, PhonePe’s average transaction value was closer to Rs 1,800.
The blogpost also said that just 40,000 Paytm customers did those 21 million transactions, translating to 525 unique transactions per user which was highly abnormal. In comparison, PhonePe had 6 million unique customers who did 28 million transactions during the month of February.
“The only logical explanation for this huge difference in average transaction value and Paytm’s startlingly high average transactions per user is that Paytm’s transaction volumes are clearly influenced by significant per-transaction cashback incentives that appeal to a very small population,” read the PhonePe blog post.
PhonePe goes on to say that the average transaction value of users on Paytm which is around Rs 40 is a far cry from the average transaction value on the entire UPI platform, which stands at Rs. 1,116. The Flipkart company also made an appeal to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which owns UPI, to share more data apart from just the total volume of transaction made by each player.
“It would be great if they considered publishing the number of unique customers counts to enable the larger ecosystem to form a more holistic picture of the health of the rapidly growing digital payments ecosystem,”
This war of words comes at a time when global giants such as Google and Facebook are looking to use UPI to try and dominate digital payments in India. Their move has drawn flak from several industry leaders, especially Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who claimed that Google and WhatsApp were arm-twisting the NPCI to receive favour over homegrown services such as Paytm.
In an interview with Business Standard last month, Sharma said, “I completely believe that Facebook is the most evil company in the world. Earlier, they tried to dupe the country with what they called was free internet. Now, they are flouting all guidelines, and rules and bringing out an app that does not need three-step authentication to make online and mobile payments.”