Paytm CEO Sharma denies report that servers share data with China

Paytm Ant Group India Sharma
FILE PHOTO: A worker adjusts a hoarding of Paytm, a digital payments firm, in Ahmedabad, India, January 31, 2019. Picture taken January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave

NEW DELHI/BENGALURU (Reuters) – Investors in India’s Paytm do not have access to customer data of its payments bank, CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma told Reuters in an interview on Monday, seeking to allay concerns over reports of user data being leaked to Chinese firms.

Paytm is backed by China’s Alibaba Group Holding and its affiliate Ant Group.

The Reserve Bank of India last week barred Paytm Payments Bank from taking on new customers and ordered a comprehensive audit of its IT systems, citing “material” supervisory concerns observed in the bank, without elaborating further.

Paytm has denied a news report from Bloomberg that said earlier on Monday RBI found Paytm Payments Bank’s servers were sharing information with China-based entities that indirectly own a stake in the firm.

In an interview to Reuters, Sharma said no investor had access to the company’s customer data, and the country’s central bank had raised no concerns related to data storage or access.

“There is no access of any bank customer data to any person, of any nationality … RBI has (in its observations) not mentioned anything in relation to investors,” Sharma said.

Paytm Payments Bank, which facilitates transactions on mobile commerce platform Paytm, has over 300 million wallets and 60 million bank accounts, according to its website. Paytm is one of India’s most popular digital payments service.

Shares of Paytm slumped 13% on Monday after RBI’s move, with Macquarie Research analysts saying they expect a significant impact on Paytm’s brand and customer loyalty.

The RBI action is the latest setback for Paytm, which had a flop stock market debut of its $2.5 bln IPO in November. Its shares are down almost 70% from the issue price.

Sharma told Reuters “we are confident” of addressing RBI’s concerns at the earliest. The RBI has ordered a comprehensive audit of Paytm Payment Bank’s IT systems.

In a separate statement, a Paytm spokesperson said its payments bank data resides within the country.

The RBI did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

(By Aditya Kalra and Chris Thomas; Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Swati Bhat; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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