THE GOVERNMENT’S move to demonetise notes of 500 and 1000 denominations has left people with lighter wallets and brought down day-to-day transactions between businesses and consumers. With the new bills of 500 and 2000 not yet readily available and ATM queues persisting even almost a month after the announcement, several businesses are coming up with novel ideas to circumvent the cash crunch.
Many companies are allowing customers to withdraw cash from their outlets upon card transactions. Bata, one of India’s leading footwear and accessories brand, on Monday announced that shoppers can withdraw cash at over 130 outlets across the country. According to the company, customers need to make a purchase of any value at a Bata store and swipe their debit cards to withdraw up to Rs 2,000 from their accounts. The facility would be subject to cash availability at the store and the outlets would be providing cash to customers from their sales collection only.
“Bata has a long-standing relationship of trust with its consumers. We support the government’s initiative to curb black money and this facility is our effort to aid our communities in getting their daily needs during this period of cash crunch,” said Rajeev Gopalakrishnan, South Asia president, Bata emerging markets.
The facility will be available for consumers with bank accounts in State Bank of India, Federal Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, Punjab National Bank, among others.
Some restaurants are offering a similar facility. Wok Express, an Asian cuisine eatery chain, is allowing its customers to swipe their cards and pay twice the bill amount and receive the difference in cash. “If the customer’s bill amount is Rs 200, they can swipe their debit card for Rs 400 and we’ll pay Rs 200 back in cash. But maximum cash amount we return is Rs 500. Customers are happy to get small amount of cash for basic use instead of standing in long queues at ATMs,” said Ravi, an employee at a Wok Express outlet in Bandra.
Many other places of business are unofficially helping customers in need of cash as the city grapples with lack of cash liquidity.
“I had dinner at a restaurant in Colaba and was going to pay the bill through debit card as I did not have cash. While paying, I requested the restaurant to accept a higher amount than the bill from my card and pay the difference in cash to me. To my surprise they accepted,” said a customer.
Another was helped out by a local business owner in Dindoshi market in Goregaon East. The customer could not get her 2000 rupee note changed at the laundry shop when a nearby electronics shop owner offered to swipe her card for Rs 400, her bill amount at the laundry, at his shop’s cash machine and get the same amount in cash. She then proceeded to pay the laundry shop owner.
Big Bazaar, one of India’s largest hypermarket retail chains, was the first to offer the facility to withdraw money at its outlets. The retail chain had tied up with State Bank of India (SBI) to provide the facility. Customers, starting November 24, have been withdrawing up to Rs 2,000 at 258 Big Bazaar and Fashion at Big Bazaar (FBB) outlets across the country. Alternate modes of payment, such as card transactions and e-wallets, are also available. A Big Bazaar spokesperson said the customer response to the move from the retail chain has been “pretty good”. However, Big Bazaar has refused to provide any data over the number and total amount of withdrawals made at their outlets.
Following Big Bazaar’s announcement, multiplex chain INOX tied up with SBI as well to allow customers to withdraw Rs 2,000 from their counters. The facility was initially available at 17 INOX properties and was later extended to 89 properties.
Another supermarket chain, D Mart, has been offering similar services at its outlets since last week. Customers can withdraw up to Rs 2,000 at the cash counter. “It works just like an ATM. Customers are lining up to withdraw,” said Ketan, an employee at a D Mart outlet in Malad.