BharatPe has waded into controversy again, with rival payment firms sending legal notices to the New Delhi-based company for allegedly circulating flyers that tag its competitors as Chinese or American, according to three people aware of the matter.
Digital payment firms have also complained to the Reserve Bank of India to help stop the aggressive marketing campaign by BharatPe to push its quick response (QR) codes at offline retail points, the people aware of the matter said on condition of anonymity.
The firm is trying to ride a wave of economic nationalism that is on the rise in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a self-reliant India and asked citizens to cut their dependence on imports.
Last month, BharatPe’s employees allegedly distributed pamphlets to merchant partners pointing out the ownership of competitors Paytm, PhonePe, GPay and Amazon Pay. The pamphlets cited Paytm’s significant ownership by Chinese companies, while the rest were tagged American because they were owned by US-based companies.
In May, BharatPe also redesigned its QR code with the tri-colour and ran in-app ads, calling other QR-codes as foreign or Chinese. The rival QR codes placed in the advertisement had striking brand colour similarities to rival PhonePe and Paytm, with spoof names—FoneSe’ and ‘Payum’ on it.
Paytm had served a legal notice to BharatPe in May, with the latter withdrawing the advertisements on its app, according to a second payments firm executive.
Paytm and PhonePe declined to comment.
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