How India's Fintech Players Became the Knights in Shining Armour During the Kerala Floods
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Lakhs of belongings gone, thousands trapped in their own houses and hundreds of lives lost. When you really put down the numbers of the tragedy that was the Kerala floods, you’ll get to some devastating numbers but if you sit down to capture the trauma that everyone in Kerala has gone through – the death of loved ones, loss of a place that you once called home and now, the uncertainties of the unknown.
But it was also a time when the nation came together to help out the people of Kerala. Social media was lit up with messages of how you can reach out to people in Kerala, do your bit and donate essentials, food or money. People were tagged, messages were shared, hashtags were made, all for Kerala.
An interesting note here was how in the startup world, fintech companies made the contribution easier. Thanks to their reach deep into the depths of India, startups like Paytm could quickly garner support and stand in solidarity with Kerala. Paytm has raised a whopping INR 35 crores already but the wonder lies in the fact that it raised INR 30 crores in just four days. At a time when the nation needed them, fintech players that enable transactions played a bigger role than even the likes of crowdfunding platforms.
Entrepreneur India takes a look at how fintech players came to the rescue and how they were able to do so.
Millions Contributing Millions
A lot of start-ups and companies came to the fore during the disaster in Kerala. But when it came to mobilizing the people, it was really the fintech players that were able to do so. On August 15, late evening Paytm added the option to donate in order to assist in providing quick relief to crisis-affected people. Soon enough, through Instagram Stories, tweets, Facebook shares and even WhatsApp groups, screenshots of Paytm’s donate for Kerala started going up. Paytm which already has a large consumer-base in India reached out to the audience which seemed to say, 'contribute with convenience'.
A Paytm spokesperson confirmed, “Until now, we have received over INR 35 crores, while more contributions are coming in. The Govt of Kerala has confirmed to us that every contribution that has been made or will be made towards ‘Kerala CM’s Distress Relief Fund’ on Paytm is completely exempted from tax under Section 80G (2) of the Income Tax Act 1961. They will soon be issuing receipts to every patron in due course of time.”
But they weren’t the only ones. MobiKwik soon put out its own message and announced that it will contribute INR 5 to the Kerala Chief Minister's Distress Relief fund for each and every donation done through the MobiKwik app. “MobiKwik is a socially responsible corporate citizen, committed to extend all possible help to affected communities in these testing times. We have a reach of over 107 million users and we urge each and every one of them to express solidarity with the people of the state and help them out in whatever way possible,” said Upasana Taku, Co founder and Director , MobiKwik.
Digital payments player Razorpay too partnered with Kerala CM’s Relief Fund and NGOs like Goonj, powering digital payments for their donation drive. “As a company built on superior technology and driven by innovation, we have always believed in leveraging technology for addressing the unmet needs and ensuring last mile connectivity. We are glad to have received the opportunity to contribute towards the relief efforts and are working hard towards ensuring 100% success rate for all transactions,” said Harshil Mathur, CEO & Co-Founder, Razorpay.
How Fintech Brought a Ray of Hope
From the times of demonetization, fintech players have stepped up to the call of duty. Whether it was enabling day-to-day transactions back then or in times of tragedies like the Kerala floods taking charge of contributions from the common man, fintech has established its readiness to help.
Today, there are millions of users who use these platforms for transactions and companies decided to reach out to this loyal base for help. Fintech companies have the means to enable and engage their large consumer-base to contribute towards a cause, for the greater good.
“We have millions of consumers throughout the country who make use of our services on daily basis. We can leverage our reach and effectively mobilize them for such important relief efforts while ensuring a safe and convenient way to make contributions,” said the Paytm spokesperson.
In the dark times, Razorpay’s Mathur points out a silver lining of hope – this is the true merit of digitization. “It’s in being deployed to meet everyday needs and providing essential services. We will continue our efforts towards identifying more such opportunities and making positive contributions towards people and society,” he said.
And in it lies the spirit of entrepreneurship. Every entrepreneur took on the journey of starting up because they saw a problem and didn’t want to sit idle – they wanted to be the ones solving it. Through social media, people spread the word and brought everyone together sometimes even providing solace to those who were stuck in the gloomy weather.
Taku believes that technology comes to the rescue here as it is helping people stay connected to their near and dear ones, in such difficult times. “It is our utmost responsibility to stand with the country and help the distressed communities, in whatever little way possible,” she said.