In India, unorganised sector is one of the most underserved and overlooked sectors of our economy. Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma took to the stage at the Global Fintech Fest (GFF) 2023, on Tuesday, to have a discussion on ‘Making Finance work for the Gig Worker’.
Accompanied by filmmaker, writer, actor and social advocate Nandita Das, moderated by SALT Co-Founder Shinjini Kumar, Vijay spoke on how this sector is currently the most overlooked and how important it is to expand and extend financial services to these workers and empower them.
Struggles of gig workers are not understood
Talking about her film ‘Zwigato’ that highlights the difficulties and challenges faced by the gig workers like delivery agents, Nandita said, “As I started researching, I realized that this is a more sort of acceptable form of the unorganised sector. I mean, in a country, like India, we are quite used to having unorganised sector all around us, and you know, as consumers, we often use their services but this just seemed like a, more official, little more glamorous, little more acceptable and yet, they were literally left to their own devices.”
Highlighting the pyramidical job structure in India, Paytm CEO said that the highest importance is given to government jobs then PSU jobs to jobs in private sector and startups and then the gig workers. However, people don’t understand that the job of gig economy workers is tough and they have to face a lot of struggle. “Gig jobs are not permanent jobs. Now, it’s a very tricky thing because the financial system inherently believes that there are two kinds of people in the world. One is called those who have jobs and second who have business…. Now the gig worker does not fit into this ecosystem,” he said.
Trying to give a solution on bringing financial inclusion for the gig workers, Paytm CEO said, “Now as we all know that India’s economy is going to grow and job creation is an obligation which means that gig economy or the obligation of gig workers is a mainstream job to be done in a country. So when we talk about understanding or building for financial services we could build different kinds of job profiles.”
“In my opinion the Gig economy workers are treated literally not yet as an addition to the inclusion agenda either. It’s a very sad thing that they don’t fit into both Venn diagrams of you have a job or you don’t. They don’t have a job and they still have a job,” he added further.
How Paytm is empowering gig workers
With an aim to improve the life and business of small merchants and shopkeepers, at Paytm, it was thought payments was a way to bring a heartbeat to them. “Building financial services for the gig economy, this is an opportunity for all of us to understand how to innovate for gig workers. I wish that our financial system, structurally, does a lot more to expand and extend to these customers,” Vijay said.
The fintech giant is trying to work with some gig economy companies as it can help the workers pay their loans. Paytm also recruits lots of people who deploy soundbox and QR codes at the counter. “I also learned that there is skilling problem or their commitment to a single job problem. So we are converting them (gig workers) to take a full time job,” Vijay said.
Giving insights about his ambitions, he added, “My personal ambition is to give 100 million people access to loans. I call upon gig economy companies, where they come and work with us to drive financial access to gig workers.”
Vijay’s take on which startup would he create now if not fintech
Answering a question on if he had to startup today, what would he do, Vijay said, “I had this long conversation with my friend Sachin Bansal when he left Flipkart, and the answer remains relevant today too. Either Electric Vehicle or financial services.” Concluding his session at GFF 2023, he said that if a person works, he should be given the fair and square for the same.