After announcement of demonetization in India on 8th November, 2016 by The Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, people were rushed to banks for exchanging old currency of 500 INR and 1000 INR. Due to non-availability of new currency notes, banks had to create their own rules in each branch thus there was some inconvenience to the customers. But a few steps both by the government and citizens could have made the situation a bit better.
What government could have done is ensure that ATMs are operational at the earliest possible. It’s almost 2 months and still most of the ATMs are not operational. When cash is available round the clock, consumers will only avail the facility, when they really need it. Now that ATMs are operational only once a while, consumers had to visit banks and withdraw money at high value even though they do not really need them. They do it so that they do not need to visit bank again and again.
What citizens can do is use alternate mode of payments such as eWallets, online banking, debit / credit cards as much as possible. It’s OK to visit bank and get allowed 24,000/- but use it only when it is absolutely needed.
Here is how I have managed with less cash for a month:
- All my payments including electricity, mobile, internet are paid automatically as I have set standing instruction on my online bank account
- Purchase groceries at a store that accept cards
- Our medical shop does not have a machine to accept card payment so we transfer amount to their bank account using Instant Money Transfer option
- Book all our travel through online and pay for local commute through eWallets. Where we cannot use eWallets for commute, we will try and see if we can transfer to their bank account
Only places where we still use cash is while buying flowers at a small cart vendor and fruits at a small shop. I am hopeful soon these things would also go digital.
I know, it’s easyfor people who are educated and in urban areas. But some simplified solutions can be implimented in rural areas too. For example, WhatsApp is being used heavily even by people living in rural area too. So let’s consider having a simple app for merchants which will only have a few fields such as Enter customer’s mobile number / Aadhar number, enter amount and a button to sent a One time password to customer; on next screen, customer can enter the One time password and transaction comletes. This does not really require a lot of education. Once a week or so, merchant can visit bank and update their passbook.
I think digital money would be more secure and easy to use. It’s about the change of mindset.