Small business, small payment, small inconvenience… time to open the e-wallet

Demonetisation could have led to perhaps the biggest push mobile Internet has got in the country

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: November 29, 2016 12:02 pm

demonetisation, cash crunch, demonetisation effect, bank queue, atm queue, cash crisis, black money, demonetisation cities, india news

Shahrukh’s voice is laced with a little bit of anger and a little too much of frustration. “Sir, everyone is saying the same thing. How do I do business like this?” I’d just told him I won’t be able to buy my weekly quota of fish as I didn’t have any spare cash and he didn’t have a card reader or even a PayTm wallet.

Shahrukh’s mobile otherwise, diligently taking orders on his phone and delivering the fresh fish within minutes to a certain radius around East Delhi’s Ghazipur market. Given that Delhi’s tryst with fresh seafood is seasonal, this is peak season for him. He just needs to wait another four weeks or so before buyers are flush with cash to tide and ready to buy his pomfrets and sardines. Let’s hope his small business survives that long.

The 30-year-old and a lot of other small businessmen across the country are wondering how exactly they can get people to transact in cash. Some have a bigger problem, given that they deal in items that are price elastic. Certainly, fish is not that big a necessity for you to spend precious cash on it. There are many other products like this — fruits, nuts, sweets, roadside snacks, etc — which you can forgo if you don’t have enough legal tender to buy the same. A few enterprising guys, seeing the business go away, have started switching to Paytm or other mobile wallets to offer their customers an option. One of them told me recently that his issue was ensuring he had enough data all the time to keep it running. Getting an active data plan has started eating into his profits he said. But then it is a ‘minor inconvenience’.

However, there is a larger question here. How do we expect millions of small traders, mom and pop shops and vendors across the country to switch to smartphones and data packs overnight? Yes, India is the fastest growing Internet location in the world, but it will still take the average user some time to understand the web and how it works. There have been no awareness drives towards this effect till Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the nation on Mann ki Baat.

On the bright side, this might be the biggest push mobile Internet has got in the country. Millions of people must now be switching on data packs while others will be upgrading to devices, networks and plans that let them access the web when needed — to make or receive a payment. The opportunity is immense as it will take out all unaccounted transactions from the system, however small they might be.

There is also an opportunity here. Can we get this push towards card/mobile/online payments to negate the requirement for bills and vouchers while corporate claims and tax returns? Afterall, all these payments, however, tiny will start showing against your PAN number. Then there should be no need for us to show these as paper bills at the end of each month to get a tax deduction. The government will know where we have spend the money and that should be enough.

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  1. W
    White Money Club
    May 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm
    What ever payments you do through mobiles/internet/ cards etc. is all do ented and stored with the concerned channel. In future bills and vouchers will be en passe. Virtually every where there is option for cash or e-payment, be it small chaiwala, or big shopping malls, government utility like telephone bills to electricity bills to property tax to getting loans. All these payments/receivables will be in WHITE MONEY.
    Reply
  2. W
    Whitemoneyclub
    Mar 1, 2017 at 3:29 pm
    Good le, the increased usage of cashless transactions and our life has become easier than ever.lt;br/gt;Thankslt;br/gt;
    Reply
  3. M
    MyTake
    Nov 29, 2016 at 11:37 pm
    [There is also an opportunity here. Can we get this push towards card/mobile/online payments to negate the requirement for bills and vouchers while corporate claims and tax returns? Afterall, all these payments, however, tiny will start showing against your PAN number. Then there should be no need for us to show these as paper bills at the end of each month to get a tax deduction. The government will know where we have spend the money and that should be enough.]lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;If everything goes cashless for someone and he/she declare it as such may be he/she doesn't need to file tax return. Let the system use the information and do the automatic tax return.lt;br/gt;Govt. can come up with some ideas to give incentives to such people in monitory or other forms to encourage people to move that way. Pandora's box of opportunities here!
    Reply
  4. H
    Harsh
    Nov 29, 2016 at 12:39 pm
    It is a very good suggestion to link each and every transaction with PAN, but unfortunately it can also be done without electronic currency more effectively. As electronic currency has its own magic, it can become invisible any time for owner and fortunately forget to reappear.
    Reply
  5. S
    Santanu Roy
    Nov 29, 2016 at 1:56 pm
    Yes cashless electronic transactions has it's advantages and it would have been ideal hadlt;br/gt;we been able to build a cashless society.When we go the grocer to buy our monthly necessities and a host of other items like electrical goods or motor parts,a host of FMCGlt;br/gt;goods.building materials.hardware goods,computer peripherals and even dry fruits and alt;br/gt;host of other things we inadvertently become active agents of hawla network.And the onlylt;br/gt;and the best answer is cashless society.I am 50 and it took me 15 years to buy a mobilelt;br/gt;phone and a laptop and I am still not very comfortable and adept in either of them whilelt;br/gt;my older generation is totally digitally illiterate.By and large the younger generation islt;br/gt;much more technology savvy but they don't have jobs,one in a thousand has got a joblt;br/gt;in govt office as data entry operator
    Reply
  6. V
    Vignesh
    Nov 30, 2016 at 5:09 am
    the real problem is bribes. Without proper punishment to bribe takers the system will again rot.
    Reply
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