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Pine Labs Take Pot Shots At Paytm On Social Media, Gets Trolled

Pine Labs criticized Paytm’s newspaper ads with a promotional tweet saying ‘Front- page ads can be bought. Trust cannot’

Pine Labs Take Pot Shots At Paytm On Social Media, Gets Trolled

Vinita Bhatia

POSTED ON February 20, 2024 9:54 PM

After the Reserve Bank of India restricted Paytm Payments Bank Ltd (PPBL) from accepting any deposits, top-ups, or credit transactions after January 29, Paytm has been on an overdrive to convince customers that it is doing its best to ensure that its customers are not affected by the fallout of this regulatory overhang. 

It started with Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma tweeting on X (formerly known as Twitter) on February 2 stating, “To every Paytmer, Your favourite app is working, will keep working beyond 29 February as usual. I with every Paytm team member salute you for your relentless support. For every challenge, there is a solution and we are sincerely committed to serve our nation in full compliance. India will keep winning global accolades in payment innovation and inclusion in financial services - with PaytmKaro as the biggest champion of it.”

Soon several startup founders also voiced their support for the company on social media platforms. Paytm followed this by publishing front-page ads in dailies to reassure its merchant partners that Paytm QR, Soundbox, and Card machine will continue to work as always even beyond March 15, following regulatory clarity.  

But it had not bargained for not-too-subtle promotional tweet from its competitors like Pine Labs, which criticized Paytm's newspaper ads with a promotional tweet saying ‘Front- page ads can be bought. Trust cannot’. 

This is not the first time that brands have attacked rival brands on social media platforms. Nike and Adidas have been at it for years, as have Coke and Pepsi. However, the move by Pine Labs, appears to have backfired, with several people stating that it was distasteful. 

“The promoted Twitter post by Pine Labs taking a dig at fellow #Fintech Paytm is below the belt. Vijay Sir is the pioneer of #Fintech revolution in #Indian #startup ecosystem,” Satya Mehta, founder and CBO of a food tech startup MealPe, wrote on LinkedIn. 

Karthik Srinivasan, an ex-communications specialist of Ogilvy, Flipkart, understanding the competitive nature of the business world, highlighted that even in such an aggressive environment, it's possible to address competitor's setbacks in a dignified manner.

“I fully understand that we are in a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world. But even in such a world, there are perfectly civil ways to use a rival's misfortune (brought upon by itself) without alluding directly to the rival,” Srinavasan wrote. “I hold no brief for Paytm and believe the RBI action, after multiple warnings, is appropriate, for taking compliance so casually. But this below-the-belt jab from Pine Labs seems unwarranted,” he added. 

Many pointed out the irony of Pine Labs using a promoted tweet on Twitter to mudsling. This approach also sparked a debate on the ethics of corporate competition, with industry observers and insiders calling for a more supportive ecosystem among startups.

Amit Gupta, business consultant wrote on Linkedin, calling out Pine Labs, for not appreciating Paytm’s resilience and its founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s who built the ecosystem from scratch. “Not good Pine Labs - Trolling Paytm with a sponsored post yourselves? Who runs your creative team Amrish Rau?,” his post read.  “Don't wish to support - don't. But why this pettiness? Same with Phonepe CEO being so upbeat on grabbing 'market share proportionately.”

Gupta was referring to PhonePe’s CEO claim in an interview where he mentioned that they will ‘grab market share proportionately’ after RBI clampdown on Paytm. 

Amit Veer, CEO of Coffeee.io, criticized Pine Labs for mocking Paytm, highlighting the irony of Pine Labs previously hiring Paytm's employees without interviews due to their valuable skills. He reminded Pine Labs of the potential repercussions of such actions and sought to maintain integrity in business practices. 

“Classless and reeks of the scarcity mindset ( you have to lose for me to win) so ingrained in most of us. There are better ways to promote your brand without demeaning your competitor,” Arindam Paul, CBO of Atomberg Tech, tweeted. 

For now, it looks like Paytm has won this round, in the battle of the tweets. 

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