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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Is Pune ready to go cashless?

With the central government advocating digital transactions for one and all, Puneites from all walks of life share their opinion.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: January 1, 2017 3:31:23 am

I don’t use cash for anything. I have been using cashless modes of transaction for the last five years. Not every one in Pune can go cashless, but a majority can. Going cashless is better than carrying a fat wallet. But there are poor and illiterate people who are dependent on cash. America is virtually a cashless economy and India can do it too, but we will need atleast 10-20 years to develop the background and infrastructure.
ARUN FIRODIA, chairman, Kinetic Group

I recently went to a restaurant and thought of paying by online wallet as I didn’t want to spend cash and I wasn’t carrying my card. During billing, some error occurred and I wasn’t able to use my wallet. We tried a lot but in the end, I had to pay him cash. Turns out, the details of the restaurant weren’t updated with the wallet provider. Going cashless is not a problem for the city but sustaining it is. And I think we can’t sustain going cashless as we’re not equipped enough for this change. We need to adapt and understand the importance of digital payments and the security it provides. In my opinion, change is the only constant and we need to realise that in order to make Pune a cashless city. Digital literacy also plays an important part in making this a success. It is very difficult to educate old people in how to use digital payment systems.
RAJ AGARWAL, Operations Consultant, Uber

Pune can go cashless but there will be difficulties at first. The hotel business in Pune has already gone cashless but where every day commodities and groceries are concerned, we still need to rely on cash. The only time I had a problem was when I was going to buy groceries and did not have cash. The vendor did not have any cashless modes for transaction. Post this incident I prefer going places that accept payments through cashless modes. This is because there is a generation that cannot handle and understand this process. Going cashless is a good idea as clearing payments and transactions becomes easier. The only problem is that people think going cashless is being oversmart but it is not; rather it is an evolution.
SHRIKANT BHIDE, theatre artiste

I have been carrying out card transactions but the problem I faced was when an additional two per cent was being charged as we had no other mode of payment. I don’t think Pune can go cashless as it is not going to work. Grocery stores that have installed Paytm have a limit because of which cash is required for payments at times. Going completely cashless is impossible for any city, forget villages. Demonetisation was not a well-planned move. It should have been executed in phases.
NIKHIL GANGAVANE, Director of Forever Music Pvt. Ltd.

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Though city has better digital infrastructure of banking, the problem is with the people from lower income backgrounds, like slum dwellers and informal sector workers who do not have enough digital literacy. Also, the shopkeepers do not have PoS machines. I recently paid a vadapav vendor through e-wallet. But someone who is not digitally literate, can’t do that. We need better infrastructure to implement it. Government can provide POS machines and can provide subsidized internet data package to needy people monthly. Mumbai’s BEST has done innovative idea of e-Mobile ticketing which can be implemented in PMT. Also, we need better functioning of government-introduced apps like ‘Maha wallet’. Thus, I would say Pune is partially ready and with inclusion of all people we can go into era of cashless economy.
PRADYUMNA DESHPANDE, Student

Even before the the government announced the decision to demonetise
Rs 500 and 1,000 notes, I was carrying out 90 per cent of my operations through cashless modes. There have been instances where I have traveled without any cash, so I’m not new to this concept. But, I don’t think Pune is ready to go cashless yet. Mainly because we lack the infrastructure. We can reduce our dependence on cash to an extent but can’t go without it. It will take its own time as people need to be digitally literate in order to operate the cashless modes of payment. For our country, going 100 per cent cashless is technically impossible. Using less cash is good but the infrastructure should be provided. People should be aware of such things and the media can play a big role in promoting this. All in all it will be good if the dependency on cash goes down.
GIRISH KULKARNI, actor-producer

Even if we try to carry out our transactions through cashless modes, it backfires. Two days ago, I had to pay my mobile bill. I decided to do it using PayTm. At my first attempt, the transaction failed so I tried it again. The second time I got a confirmation message. But, later I found out that the bank had debited amount for both the transactions. I lost a total of Rs 5,000 in two transactions. It has been six days and the only response I have got from Paytm are text messages on keeping patience. There has been, however, no communication between Paytm and my bank, which says that they had sent the money to Paytm. They should settle the account if the amount is not received. I have lost my money in this process. I don’t think I would be doing any online transactions anymore since there is no control on such cheating incidents.
MURTUZA NALWALA, businessman

I haven’t faced any hurdles with any of the cashless modes of payment. However, I would say that all of Pune is not ready to gocashless. I’m not saying it is impossible but it will take time. Maybe one year down the line things will be different. I believe it will work in the long run. Pune is a progressive city and any modern society would adapt such techniques. The main hurdle will be changing the attitude of people.
PUSHKAR LELE, musician

‘Not really’

Narendra Barhate, MD and CEO of SEED, Infotech Ltd

The first phase of demonetisation completed on December 30, 2016. A lot has been said for and against the decision in the last 50 days. We definitely agree that demonetisation will have long-term benefits and that it has helped in curbing black money and terrorism. But, this change will take some time to come to the fore. One of the major fallouts of demonetisation has been the pressure on going totally cashless. Is Pune ready for cashless transactions? The answer is, not really.

On one side, there are technology savvy youths who have no issues using smartphones and plastic money. On the other, we see a major part of the society still struggling to come to terms with it. The elderly find it absolutely challenging to adapt to the use of smartphones and internet. The illiterate, meanwhile, find it hard to believe that money transactions are possible without cash exchanging hands. Add to that the increase in CAPX and OPEX in terms of buying a smartphone and internet packs. It is putting an additional burden on their cash-striven pockets. Though it has been a smooth transition for some but Pune, as a whole, is not totally ready to go cashless.

The only near-term solution is to provide training to the elderly and the illiterate and help them understand the operational aspects of transacting in cashless terms. We believe the municipal corporation, along with other government agencies, can help in the process by setting up such training facilities and even subsidise smartphone and internet packs.

‘Yes, can go cashless’

Gautam Rege, co-founder and director, Josh Software

As a city, Pune can certainly go cashless but it has to percolate to all the stratas of society. A large section of the society has already gone cashless. Thanks to disruptive technology, we can now pay an autorickshawala or a panwala using our mobile phones.

I don’t think any special infrastructure is necessary for a city like Pune to go cashless. Most people anyways use smartphones and almost every Puneite is within the gambit of the banking network.

Yes, it is going to be a slow process, but it can certainly happen. The only thing needed is awareness drives across all stratas of society to make the transition as seamless as possible. Going cashless should not be forced on people, instead it should be made simpler.

In the long-run, going cashless will have many advantages, including easier payments, lesser red tapes, more taxes in the government’s coffers. The launch of the Bhim app is certainly a welcome step on part of the government as it can become the universal e-wallet. A single company should not get the monopoly of the market.

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