Image is for representational purposes only.
India’s push for a digital, cashless society is well-documented by now.
After last year’s currency ban, the country has pushed cashless transactions in every sphere of citizen life — from payments at the local grocer and refuels at gas stations to utility bill payments and more.
Local mobile wallet companies have recorded an unprecedented growth as a result.
Last month India’s federal bank mandated that even meal vouchers that corporate houses provide their employees must go digital by the end of 2017.
And cashing in on this opportunity is Paytm, India’s largest mobile wallet with 200 million users. It has launched a Food Wallet that will take on established players like Sodexo and Ticket Restaurant in the meal voucher space.
Also, it will bring you food coupons without an expiry date.
Sodexo, meanwhile, is the largest operator with over 10,000 corporate clients and 2 million beneficiaries. Paytm has set out with an ambitious target of 6 million customers, the company blog noted.
"Every working Indian is eligible for a tax-free food allowance of Rs 50/meal ($0.78) up to Rs 2,200 ($34.15) per month. However, between easily spoiled paper coupons, low acceptability and expiry dates, 60 lakh (6 million) Indians struggle to file their food voucher claims every year," it said.
Image: PAYTM BLOG
The Food Wallet feature is integrated within the Paytm app and allows employers to directly top-up the credits for their employees on a flexible daily, monthly or quarterly basis.
The e-cash in the wallet can then be used at office cafeterias and a wide range of offline merchants which the Alibaba-backed Paytm has partnered with. These include popular fast food chains such as Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Cafe Coffee Day, and food ordering service Zomato.
Users can go to the ‘Passbook’ option on their Paytm app and check their Food Wallet balance. They can also locate the closest food outlet using the ‘nearby’ feature on the app.
The Food Wallet comes with the complete suite of in-app security features available on Paytm such as app lock password, two factor authentication and passcode among others.
The balance can be offloaded at grocery stores and supermarkets too provided you’re buying food or beverage items.
While Paytm is a new entrant in this space, incumbents like Sodexo are gradually pulling the plug on paper transactions too. The company has reportedly converted 60 percent of its meal vouchers to digital meal cards to comply with the federal bank’s mandate.
Only time will tell how fast India adapts to this new mode of food allowances.