INTERVIEW: Paytm exec reveals how the contactless dining project was executed in just a month

Nikhil Saigal , VP, PaytmPaytm
  • Paytm will soon launch its ‘order ahead feature’ through which users can place orders at a restaurant even before they have reached.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Nikhil Saigal, Vice President, Paytm shares how the product was built in a month.
  • While Paytm had been working on the idea even before coronavirus, the execution was accelerated because of Covid-19.
  • But they also have one big challenge on the way – Zomato.
Paytm recently launched its contactless dining feature and is already ramping up the product for restaurants in the post covid world. Through a unique QR code, the new feature lets users scan the code and browse the menus and place orders.

And now, Paytm will soon launch its ‘order ahead feature’ through which users can place orders at a restaurant even before they have reached.

“Through these new features, the only time the user has to walk up to the store counter is when the order is ready and stores/restaurants can manage queuing this way and the whole flow becomes controlled,” said Nikhil Saigal, Vice President, Paytm.

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While Paytm had been working on the idea even before coronavirus, the execution was accelerated because of Covid-19. “We were looking at it as a solution to eliminate queues at QSRs (quick service restaurants) but with Covid-19, we realized as restaurants start to open they would need a process that ensures social distancing within their stores and also offers the most hygienic way to place orders,” said Saigal.

Paytm Scan to order option in a restaurantPaytm

They conceptualized the product in April and launched it in early June. Saigal says normally a product like this would have taken them 2-3 times of the current timeline in which they delivered the solution.

Paytm now plans to onboard 100,000 restaurants by the end of the year. “We have started onboarding merchants over the last three-four weeks and multiple large brands have already signed up with us. We have seen extremely encouraging signs from across all formats of restaurants and even from malls and airports,” said Saigal.
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While Saigal mentioned that they have partnered with Costa Coffee, Barista, Keventers, Select Citywalk mall among others, reports say that Paytm has also brought on board Starbucks as its client for this. Paytm is also in talks with state governments to make contactless ordering a standard operating procedure.

Saigal believes that a product like this would give users the confidence to walk back into restaurants. “We understand that the industry will take time to recover but its important that as normalcy sets in, restaurants are ready with a product like this to make users feel safe,” he said.

But they also have one big challenge on the way – Zomato. Days before Paytm launched its contactless dining option, Zomato too had started offering the service to its restaurant partners.
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While Zomato being a foodtech leader would seem to have an edge, Saigal believes otherwise. “We have already been enabling digital payments and working with every small and large food brand across different formats. For us it’s really an extension of our payments and for the user to discover the menu and place the order on their phone. In terms of our relationship with our merchant partners we already have a huge reach,” he said.

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