Small-scale businesses that have been impacted by the demonetisation have begun to opt for e-wallet facilities so as to not lose out on business. From tailors to vegetable sellers to even paan and cigarette vendors, there has been a surge in the number of small businessmen accepting payment through e-wallets.
Pyarelal Gupta, whose family has been running a paan and cigarette shop in a busy South Mumbai locality is one of them. Gupta says the response to the facility has been tremendous. “People are hesitant to use any little change they have. Even if they buy cigarettes, they prefer paying through their e-wallets, because today change is precious,” said Gupta, who has also connected his personal bank account to his business transactions.
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A 50-eight year old cobbler who runs his business a few metres away from the Churchgate station credits his son for suggesting him to opt for the e-wallet facility, and confesses to be still trying to learn to use it. “My son has given me his smartphone so that I can accept money through internet. My first bank account was made last year because of Jan Dhan,” said the cobbler.
The stores selling second-hand books in Churchgate too were left with no other option but to turn to e-wallets, as setting up a swiping machine would have taken longer. “We had already lost a lot of business in the first two weeks after the announcement was made. Most of our transactions over the last two days were made through the e-wallet facility, and the business is looking up,” said Jayant Jain.
Also, about 18,000 autorickshaws in Mumbai had installed e-wallet facilities three months ago, well ahead of the government’s announcement. “The decision proved to be an advantage during the cash crunch. It wasn’t widely used three months ago, but it is being used more now. Any auto driver would of course prefer cash, as we have to meet maintenance expenses,” said Shashank Rao, a member of Mumbai’s Autorickshawmen Union.
The Taximen’s Union is also in talks with the State Bank of India and is in the final stages of approving a plan to install mobile wallet facilities in cabs across the city.
However, businesses like that of Gupta and Jain also feel the pinch of 1 per cent transaction charge deducted by the banks. “When the transactions are made for smaller amounts, we suffer when the transaction charge is deducted. We hope this is a short-term option, and soon the cash crunch comes to an end,” said Gupta. According to share-taxi drivers, e-wallets are a time-consuming process. While they do not mind being paid for services online for one-to-one cab drives, the facility for sharing services becomes a hassle.