Paytm today announced a new feature that will allow people to make payments using a Paytm wallet even if they don't have an internet-connected smartphone.
One will still need access to a smartphone or PC with internet connection in order to create a Paytm account and link it to one's phone number, and to load funds into the wallet. However, to make payments on a day to day basis, you won't require a smartphone or an internet connection. All you require is any phone - even an old-fashioned feature phone.
To do this, Paytm has launched a toll free phone number - 1800 1800 1234 - you will have to call it from your registered mobile number in order to set your PIN. You'll hear a voice message letting you know that you'll get a call back to set the PIN.
After that, you can make payments by calling this number, typing in the phone number of the recipient, then the amount, and finally typing in your PIN for confirmation. You do not require a smartphone, or the Paytm app, or an internet connection, to make use of this feature. Although it's not the easiest method for making payments, there could be a number of situations where such a feature is useful.
For example, many older people still prefer to use feature phones for their simplicity. For such users, who are now forced to transact digitally owing to the demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes, Paytm's toll free number would be helpful. Also for people who can't afford a smartphone, this number, along with a visit to a cyber cafe, could be very empowering. And of course, there are also people who might prefer to use this method rather than tap through multiple screens on an app.
However NDTV Gadgets 360 points out that its first several attempts at getting through to Paytm to set a PIN were unsuccessful as the number was routinely busy. It took half an hour of trying before they were able to sign up for the service, and after that, payments were again a problem because the number was busy on the next few tries.
This might just be because of the initial rush for signups, but it paints a worrying picture - if someone is trying to make a payment using this method, it would probably be because they might not have access to other forms of online payments, and so if the system fails due to the number being busy, it would be a huge problem.