The last cashless payment at Monu Yadav’s store in Farukhnagar’s Fazilpur Badli was over a month ago. Right after demonetisation, this small village — 30 km from Gurgaon — was among the “cashless villages” chosen by the government to set an example of paperless transactions for others to follow.
Six months later, the scheme seems to have failed, with residents largely returning to cash. “Even during demonetisation, only 10 to 20 per cent of my customers were using mobile apps to make payments. Most were still paying by cash,” said Yadav, counting a wad of notes.
Fazilpur Badli is home to 3,100 people, mostly farmers. It has no ATM, although officials claim one is in the offing. The closest bank is 5 km away. “We made a lot of effort to convert the village to a cashless one. We organised camps wherein people from Paytm came to teach residents about the app,” said Govind Singh, the sarpanch.
Singh said lack of infrastructural support within the village was partly to blame. “We encouraged people to use mobile applications to make payments, but the internet service here is so bad, it negated our efforts,” he said.
Rajpal, a resident, said, “People do not have a lot of money here, and they do not want to pay for internet just to make these transactions. If the government wants us to switch to Paytm and other apps, they should provide free WiFi.”
The sarpanch said storeowners faced problems in making cashless payments while purchasing goods from wholesale markets. “After demonetisation, the village was initially almost 100 per cent cashless. But storeowners discovered cashless payments were not being accepted in the urban market. After that, they only wanted paper money,” said Singh. “The scheme is a good idea, but we should move from the bigger to the smaller markets if it is to be successful. It is only when the urban market in Farukhnagar becomes cashless can we do the same. And Farrukhanagar will become cashless only when the market in Gurgaon becomes cashless.”
The panchayat had also arranged for a swipe machine so people could pay via debit or credit cards. “We couldn’t get multiple machines because the process is long and complicated and small store owners did not want to make the effort. So, we procured a card machine for one store where people could make payments even for purchases from other stores. The money would then be transferred to the latter’s accounts,” said Rajender Yadav, a panch of the village.
But Vikram Singh, the storeowner who had procured it, said it was “barely being used” and eventually, it stopped working.