The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) ordered a halt to many banking activities of digital payments provider Paytm while the regulator investigates “persistent noncompliances and continued material supervisory concerns.”
Paytm Payments Bank and its parent company, One97 Communications, made several disclosures to the National Stock Exchange of India indicating One97 would continue operating despite the RBI’s “embargo” on Paytm. The company also tamped down speculation the RBI’s enforcement directorate was conducting investigations into money laundering or foreign exchange rules violations at Paytm.
In addition to ceasing the acceptance of new customers, the RBI ordered Paytm to stop taking deposits and processing credit transactions or fund transfers after Feb. 29, it said in a Jan. 31 press release.
The RBI said Paytm’s and One97’s nodal accounts, which are special bank accounts required to be held by intermediaries holding money on behalf of vendors and customers, should be terminated “at the earliest” but no later than Feb. 29.
Launched in a 2021 initial public offering by Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm was once worth $20 billion and serves millions of users every day, according to Reuters. The company, however, has lost 75 percent of its value since the RBI’s order, Reuters reported.
In March 2022, the RBI ordered Paytm to stop onboarding new customers, citing supervisory concerns.
An external audit directed as part of that 2022 order found “persistent noncompliances and continued material supervisory concerns in the bank, warranting further supervisory action,” the regulator said.
The RBI said current Paytm customers would be allowed to continue banking activities, including accessing savings bank accounts, current accounts, and prepaid instruments. Their use will be permitted without any restrictions, up to their available balance, but all transactions should be completed by March 15.
One97 said in a Feb. 1 filing with the National Stock Exchange of India that it “now will accelerate the plans and completely move to other bank partners” and that it “will be working only with other banks and not with Paytm Payments Bank Limited.” One97 said it would move its nodal accounts to other banks “during this period.”
In a filing on Sunday, One97 said it “categorically” denied any investigation by the RBI’s enforcement directorate on itself or its founder for potential money laundering. On Monday, One97 said in another filing the company was not under investigation for violating foreign exchange rules.