BENGALURU: Digital wallets are preferred here
Azhar Pasha Owner, Global Key Makers
Azhar Pasha, a locksmith in central Bengaluru, realised that customers who came to get their new keys were often helpless and asked for credit. One customer, a manager with online payments company Freecharge, showed him a way out and opened an account for his store, Global Key Makers. Pasha could now accept cash on his phone.
“I have been in this business for 10 years. This is the first time I have moved towards cashless transactions,” said Pasha.
Soon, Paytm and MPoint representatives got in touch and set up their payment systems on Pasha’s mobile phone.
Pasha now accepts mobile payments for all his services and is going to the next level. “I have reached out to Axis Bank to get a PoS (point of sale) machine. It will take a while. Meanwhile, these wallets are extremely helpful,” he said.
Jagadeesh BS, newspaper vendor (Vinayaka Enterprises)
Many of the 700 households in Indira Nagar where Jagadeesh BS delivers newspapers had yet to pay him for October when he was suddenly deluged with requests to collect the payments a month later. Before setting out on his collection rounds this month, he took proactive measures. “I knew many people here use Paytm, so I downloaded it,” he said. “Whenever someone said they didn’t have any cash, I suggested they pay through Paytm.”
The payment he gets from each household is usually less than `200 and this month, over three-fourth of his customers paid cash. He collected Rs 7,000 through cashless channels. “Some people, especially the residents of Defence Colony, do not support Paytm – they say it is a Chinese company. For them, I have SBI Buddy,” Jagadeesh said, adding that he may soon get a PoS machine too. Rashmi Prava Das, home chef Apart from running a food stall, Rashmi Prava Das runs a good business selling snacks to her neighbours in a colony near Sahakaranagar. “I have always had problems collecting money because it is in small amounts and change is always a problem. Afterdemonetisation, it became worse,” she said.
A neighbour who was unable to pay cash offered to send some virtual money, triggering the change in how she carries out her business.
“I didn’t know about it before. She introduced me to it. It has been 15 days and it is so convenient. I am planning to continue it even after the cash flow is normalised,” she said. Digital cash ensures she gets paid promptly and Das also gets a record of payments, making it easier to track her income and ensure that she doesn’t lose money. The milk vendors and grocers in her apartment complex also accept virtual money, which covers some of her expenses, too. “These wallets are the best option for beginners in online payments such as myself,” she said.
Mervin, a 35-year-old masseuse at a spa in Indira Nagar, was quick to accept cashless payments on the advice of his clients It’s easier for Mervin to accept tips with his e-wallet. “It is quick and easy,” Mervin said, adding that he doesn’t have to approach his manager to receive his tips. Establishments are hesitant to add tips to the final bill because they are taxable.
Sajir SK, kirana shop owner Kochi-born, 30-year-old Sajir SK initially experienced a dip in business at his shop in Koramangala, but was quick to adopt online payments. “Almost 50% of the payments for groceries now happen through Paytm,” he said. “I do not have a card machine.” Sajir is even urging regular customers who previously used only cash to switch to a digital wallet.
KERALA: Swipe machines and mobile apps to the rescue
Suresh Kumar, autorickshaw driver
When Suresh Kumar, an autorickshaw driver in Thiruvananthapuram, realised that his business was getting hit badly, he installed a card swipe machine in his vehicle. “Customers are happy,” he said. “They just have to look at the meter and swipe the card.” Although the innovation is new, Kumar is feeling the difference.
Cooperative banks are leading the journey towards a cashless economy in many parts of the state. Thenhipalam Co-operative Rural Bank near Kozhikode found in a survey that all the people in the area’s lower income class and 90% of the middle class depended on the local market for their purchases.
“Since they all had their accounts in the bank, we saw an opportunity,” said Srejith Mullassery, assistant secretary of the bank. The bank created a mobile app called COOPaisa with the help of a Kozhikode-based software developer to facilitate payments, a move that is transforming Thenhipalam and its neighbouring areas into a digital village. After purchasing a product or using a service, all that the buyer has to do is scan a code assigned to the seller to transfer money to the latter’s account and complete the payment, he explained. In Kozhikode, the Calicut Town Service Cooperative Bank has also taken the digital route to overcome the cash crunch.
“M-Core, our mobile app, facilitates e-payment,” said Sunil Kumar, secretary of the bank. Customers can use it to pay for purchases, he added. The bank has seven branches in the region.
Down by the hill shrine of Sabarimala, the temple administration decided to use a swipe machine for offerings. R Ravishanker, executive officer of the Tranvancore Devaswam, said collections in “e-Kanikka” have crossed `2 lakh in the past two weeks. The facility, installed by Dhanlaxmi Bank, helps pilgrims who may be short on lower-denomination notes. The minimum contribution is `10, he said. State Bank of Tranvancore, the largest in the state, said there have been almost 1,000 applications for the installation of swipe machines in the past 10 days. “What we now face is a shortage of the swipe machines,” a bank spokesman said.
ASSAM: Workers using ATM/debit cards for the first time
Shibnath Tanti, tea estate chowkidar
Shibnath Tanti, a chowkidar at a tea estate, had never used his ATM card before November 20, 2016, although he had an account with State Bank of India for almost 15 years. “I generally get paid in cash. I put a portion of my salary in the bank account and whenever needed, I used a withdrawal slip to take out money,” he explained. “But this time, I understood that I have to use the ATM to withdraw money as I could not skip my work to stand in the queue.”
Tanti, 52, sought the help of Nabinchandra Keot, secretary of the Assam Cha Mazdoor Sangh. “Nabinji came to help me and he explained the entire process of withdrawing money. Initially, I made a mistake while putting in the PIN number. I was actually tense. But then I entered the PIN correctly and withdrew Rs 2,000.”
However, Tanti hasn’t been converted. He said that once the currency flow in the system returns to normal, he will go back to his old system of withdrawing money from the bank branch. “I am not comfortable with withdrawing money from the ATM,” he said. Nur Mohammad, construction worker Like Tanti, Nur Mohammad, a construction worker from Murshidabad, used an ATM card for the first time. “I have never used the card before and it was lying unused for more than two years. But I needed money to buy medicine for my ailing mother. So I asked my supervisor to help me to withdraw money. On the first day, I could not withdraw because the ATM ran out cash. On the second day, I was successful in withdrawing money from a Bank of India ATM with the help of my supervisor.”
Unlike Tanti, Nur now prefers to withdraw money from ATMs. “I will learn how to withdraw money from ATM in detail from my supervisor and come back again,” he said.
SURAT: Debit cards are picking up in Surat, the largest diamond polishing centre
Atul Patel, diamond polisher
Atul Patel, 45, who has been engaged in diamond polishing for almost 20 years, just opened an account with Axis Bank and now withdraws money through ATMs. He currently works with Tiku Gems run by Dinesh Navadia, president of the Surat Diamond Association, who helped him to open the account.
“Since there is no other way to withdraw money now, I have opted for the ATM route to meet my daily expenses and send money to my family who lives in Manguka village in Gariadhar taluka of Bhavnagar district. Otherwise, I would have to stand in long queues in banks for at least two to three days to get money and that would have affected my work at the factory,” said Patel. Earlier, Patel got his wages in cash. After demonetisation, his employer was unable to pay him in cash and so an account had to be opened to transfer wages.
CHENNAI: Customers prefer cash to digital wallets
Ravi Vasanthan, mill owner
Ravi Vasanthan runs a grinding mill at Thathankuppam near Villivakkam in Chennai. It’s been two weeks since he started using Paytm to accept payments from customers. “I hadn’t heard of it before. But after demonetisation, people from Paytm approached me and explained how it worked and how it might help in overcoming the crisis. It sounded like a good idea,” he said.
Although customers are curious when they see the Paytm board hanging at the entrance, they aren’t eager to utilise the option. “Technology sometimes scares people. People feel it’s too complicated and opt to pay by cash,” said Vasanthan, who has so far had only three customers paying via Paytm.
Subhash S, stationery shop owner Nearby, Subhash Stationeries, too, has found only three or four customers after availing of the digital wallet service, according to owner Subhash S. “If everybody adopts it, it might turn out to be a good idea. Just scan the QR code displayed here and from the customer’s wallet, money directly reaches my account. No problem of torn notes, no need to give back chocolates instead of change,” he quipped.
However, many customers don’t have the facility on their phones to scan the code or lack the confidence to use it and end up sticking to cash payments, he said. Raju S, ironing shop operator Raju S, who runs Vivek Ironing shop, a small establishment on wheels, has had a different experience. He has a board displaying ‘Payments accepted via Paytm’ that attracts some curious customers. Those who have asked to use the service, though, have been disappointed.
“When people from the company approached, I felt this might help. However, when they asked for the Aadhaar card, I didn’t have it since it was at home. They said they would return in the evening to verify it, but never came back. Since then, the board has been hanging here,” Raju said. “So I have just left the board there still, hoping that they might return.”
Kaliyaperumal, mobile phone shop operator
RK Mobiles in Choolaimedu has been using Paytm for a month. Kaliyaperumal, who runs the shop, notes that although most customers are young and tech-savvy, not many use the facility for making payments. “Most of them have the app on their phones, but very few have money in the wallet. So they stick to traditional methods when it comes to payment,” he said.
Priya Sakthivel, DTP operator
Priya Sakthivel, a DTP operator at SriSakthi Informatics near Nelson Manickam Road, says, “We don’t know what the reason is – it could either be people’s ignorance or maybe they simply don’t want to change. After availing the facility, it has been almost a month and we have found just one customer.”
HYDERABAD: Going digital has helped small businesses
A tea seller, a betel shop owner and a mehendi artist
Tea stall owner Anjanalu, betel shop owner Sonu Mishra and mehendi artist Anil got the Paytm service within a fortnight of the demonetisation announcement. “Not out of compulsion, but out of choice,” they emphasised, because each of them possessed a smartphone and it would not make sense to get a swipe machine for a makeshift stall, one of them remarked.
For Anjanalu, it was getting difficult to return change for a cup of tea that cost Rs 5. The fall in business led him to choose the digital mode of payment. He said the digital medium generates 25% of his daily income and the money is transferred to his bank account. Mehendi artist Anil had taken the online route a couple of years ago. With most of his revenue generated during the wedding season, the move has proved to be a boon, given the limit on cash withdrawals for wedding expenses. Recently, he started using Paytm and is now preparing to go cashless. “As our customers are sending payments directly into our bank accounts, it gets convenient for them. Secondly, working in a metro city with a large number of people using plastic money, choosing digital modes of payment was important for us to remain in business,” said Anil.
Betel store owner Mishra, since switching to Paytm, now gets about 60% of his payments through the digital wallet, which he has also started using to clear bills. Amid the cash crunch, there haven’t been any hiccups as several payments to vendors are made digitally.