Barely eight months ago, when the entire country was dealing with cash crunch due to demonetisation, a majority of small-scale shopkeepers and grocers had bought credit/debit card swipe machines, so that they didn’t lose out on business in a ‘cashless society’. While the card swipe machines came in handy in the initial months of demonetisation, the shopkeepers say that for the past few months, the machines have been barely used, as the customers are no longer short of cash. But shopkeepers have to keep on paying monthly rent for a device they hardly have to use. Kailash Bansode, the owner of a small grocery store in Ghorpadi Bazaar, said he was forced to buy the device in November last year, after sales at his shop started dropping drastically.
“Soon, my business was back to normal, thanks to the card swipe machine. In late January, when the cash situation improved, the customers started paying us in cash, which was fine with us. It was only later that I realised that though hardly 10 per cent of transactions are cashless, I continue to pay monthly rent for the device,” said Bansode. The price of a machine ranges between Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000. The one-time installation charge is between Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000, and the monthly rental ranges between Rs 350 to Rs 700.
Rajendra Karnavat, from New Indraroop Mini Market at Nal Stop, said he had applied for the card machine in a private bank. As the banks were busy dealing with the cash situation, the device arrived four months later. Today, Karnavat says he regrets ordering it because only 15 to 20 per cent of his customers pay with credit/debit cards. It’s not just the monthly rental that’s bothering the shopkeepers. Amey Joshi from Devi Laxmi Traders, who pays Rs 700 as rent for the device, said, “We get a variety of cards swiped and every card has its own deduction charge. For every transaction, we are charged between Rs 4 to Rs 10 by the bank. If the value of total transactions in a month does not cross Rs 25,000, then the banks charge Rs 190.”
Tikaram Chaudhary, owner of Krishna Supermarket in Kothrud, said in the wake of demonetisation, he had paid an ‘extra amount’ to the ‘agent’ so that the device would get delivered to his shop within two days. But today, hardly 20 per cent of the transactions at his shop are done via cards. “That time, we had no other option. We had even tried selling products to customers on credit, but a few of them never came back to pay the remaining amount,” he recalled. But a few shopkeepers have decided to adopt to digital transactions. “One must realise that technology comes with benefits and at a price… we must be ready to make a few sacrifices… The shops that do not have swipe card machines end up turning away customers on days when ATMs run dry, and that has been happening often these days,” said Balram Jat of Madhur Mini Market, Model Colony.
(With inputs from Shweta Sandilya)