Most evenings, CoolCat Tifen is one of the busiest eateries in the Indian beach town of Pondicherry. The roadside restaurant doesn’t have seats — only standing tables, spread across an open space where a constant stream of tourists and locals pour in for masala chai and dosa. Even the most lavish dish costs no more than $5. The counter is festooned with QR codes for customers to scan and pay online.
For the past six years, Deva Oli, CoolCat Tifen’s owner, has trusted only one brand for all of his digital payments: Paytm. In 2015, he created a digital wallet to accept payments at one of his restaurants through the service, whose name is short for “pay through mobile.” Pickup was slow at first, but then the fintech company splurged on cashbacks and marketing, sending adoption into overdrive. It turned the app into a household name, used to pay for everything from cigarettes to flight tickets.
Today, all five restaurants that Oli operates in Pondicherry accept digital payments with Paytm QR codes, and he also uses card swipe machines provided by the company. “About 30-40% pay using Paytm, they don’t use cash. It’s increased, especially in the last one year during the corona period,” he said.