So, passengers who avail trains at 10 metro stations in Delhi will have to use their Paytm e-wallets. The government finally seems to be resorting to force to make sure people go digital with lesser venues to spend cash, which has all of a sudden gone out of currency in our country.
There is a lot wrong with this move by the Delhi Metro. For one, it takes away a choice which should be a fundamental right in a democracy like ours. Then it is blatantly creating a monopolistic situation, at least in these stations for Paytm, which at the end of the day is a private company. If these justifications are not enough, then we have to look at the possibility that this order is outright foolish and impractical. Do we not expect foreigners to use these stations?
Even if there is a need to restrict use of cash at the station, which already has a high rate of smart card and debit card usage, there has to be multiple e-wallets options on offer. It can never be one, just in case Paytm decides not to work one fine morning because of overload.
In this entire push to adopt digital wallets, we seem to be missing one very important point. Rs 100 in cash is not equal to Rs 100 in the online wallet. Somewhere the service provider is going to take a percentage for the transaction. Even if it is a minuscule percentage, it will erode the value of the amount, something that does not happen with cash. Look at what will be left of the Rs 100 after ten transactions. Look at what will be left with Paytm, or any other e-wallet, at the end of these ten transactions. Yes, it is not that simple.
We should all support a push towards digitisation, but it cannot be forceful. It cannot be a replacement for cash, at least not now. For now, digital should be a supplementary option, if possible with some incentives attached to it. However, it cannot be the only option, certainly not when it comes to a mass transport service like the Delhi Metro.
The Delhi Metro on December 24 clarified that the process to rope in other e-wallet players is underway and soon other services will be activated. Also, it said, one ticket issue counter will be there at each station wherein a passenger can buy tokens in cash.