Cashless transactions are the buzzwords of the future, with countries slowly making the shift to digital platforms. In India, the Central Government called demonetisation an enabler of these transactions and the country did see a surge in the use of e-wallets like Paytm and MPesa. However, this hasn't caught on outside of youth-centric pockets of urban society. Rural populations, the urban poor and senior citizens still find the shift too difficult to make. There have also been compaints that businesses charge extra for digital payments. Dhananjay, a city-based architect and Kumaraswamy Rao, a garment exporter, talk to Nikhil Gangadhar about the pros and cons of going digital.
Post-demonetisation, the central government has been insisting on digital, cashless financial transactions. But people still haven’t got the hang of online payments and there have been complaints that shops and business establishments charge extra for digital payments, as compared to cash payments. Asked about advantages and disadvantages of going cashless, people had different views and opinions.
Dhananjay, a city-based architect, said, “The rate of cashless transaction is high in developed countries, which helps in bringing down corruption. But in our country, people shy away from making online transactions, saying they might get duped or have to pay a minimal amount of tax for every transaction. But they do not realise that it is easy and less time consuming as compared to traditional payment methods. Our people are still learning the nuances of e-wallets and online transactions.”
But Kumarswamy Rao, a garment exporter, had a differing view. “These e-wallets have come in now and there is no clarity on their terms and conditions. In our country, not everyone is aware of e-wallets and online transactions. Take the urban population itself, which is assumed to be better equipped to go digital. Tell me, how many senior citizens know about e-wallets? Such online methods are used by only a few youngsters and not everybody. We don’t have a strong cyber security system and by using these e-wallets, we are at the risk of being duped. We keep reading about people getting cheated while trying to transfer money online or by using e-wallets. First, let the country get a strong cyber security system and then talk about going digital.”
Dhananjay said, “People should get used this technology and we cannot depend on paper transactions forever. In my business, I prefer my clients to transfer money online instead of giving me a cheque or hard cash, as I have to spend half-a-day to get it deposited into my account. I can predict that in the coming days, everything related to buying and selling will be done online and through e-wallets. People should learn how to use them. There are various benefits to using e-wallets, like cash-back offers, discounts and more.”
Rao said, “But we need clarity on how e-wallets function. It is found that every transaction through e-wallet has a certain amount of tax which needs to be paid by the establishment or company. But actually, it is paid by the customer which is unfair. First, the government should bring in clarity on these wallets and then implement it. It is difficult to trust e-wallets, as they are private companies and no one is aware about their security methods. The government should ensure that any company trying to introduce e-wallets should have a strong a cyber security system. What if someone hacks into our account and takes away our credit or debit card details? Would we even know if someone is siphoning off our money? It is easy for the government to ask people to go cashless, but difficult to implement.”