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Six months of note ban: Digital transactions decline as retailers want cash

Mobile wallets such as Paytm and MobiKwik have perhaps benefitted the most from demonetisation, with a fourth of their consumers joining them after November 8, 2016. But six months later, traders say consumers are moving away from digital payments.

black money crackdown Updated: May 08, 2017 19:39 IST
Suchetana Ray and Dipanjan Sinha
demonetisation

A Paytm barcode in a idol shop near the temple in sector 20 Chandigarh.(HT Archive )

Mobile wallets such as Paytm and MobiKwik have perhaps benefitted the most from demonetisation, with a fourth of their consumers joining them after November 8, 2016. But six months later, traders say consumers are moving away from digital payments.

Manoj Kumar, a tea stall owner on the busy Elgin Road in south Kolkata, said the decline in Paytm payments has been huge. “I introduced Paytm facility in the middle of November soon after demonetisation. From that time till middle of January, daily Paytm transactions had been as high as Rs 500 to Rs 600. But it started declining since then and now the daily amount ranges between Rs 50 and Rs 60,” Kumar told HT. The experience is same for Asutosh Addya, owner of a small garments shop in Jadubabu’s Bazar in Bhawanipur and Manorajan Saha, a tailor near Hazra Road crossing.

The story is not very different at Delhi’s favourite flee market, Janpath. Barely one or two traders are using mobile wallets there.

“We have been using Paytm since demonetisation six months ago. Overall sales have increased since then but cash remains the preferred method of payment for both customers and shopkeepers,” Saurabh Monga, 32, whose family has been running a small garments store or over 60 years, said.

Janpath sells clothes, accessories, titbits and souvenirs and most shop owners said they run a cash only business.

“Some people, who accepted old notes, made huge profits just after demonetisation. Usually people come to Janpath and haggle over prices. At that time, clothes which usually sell for Rs 300 were sold for Rs 500. People who didn’t have any money, made some. Now things have normalised,” said retailer Vikram Singh.

As you move west to Mumbai’s Fashion Street market, demonetisation brought a sharp slump in business, with daily earnings plummeting by about 50% and staying that way until end-January.

But in the long run, the campaign to go cashless has had no visible impact here.

Business is back to normal. And the stall owners say that of the 395 registered stalls, only a handful use e-wallets or have a card-swipe machines.

Ramesh Singh, who has been running a stall here for a year, set up a PayTM account a month after demonetisation, but no longer uses it. “Customers prefer cash,” he says.

Rajesh Sirajuddin, a member of the Fashion Market Welfare Association, says cash is also more convenient for the stall owners.

“Most of us here live on daily earnings. So the concept of getting a machine and waiting for money to transfer to an account doesn’t work for us,” says Sirajuddin, who’s been doing business here for 38 years. “When you don’t make that much money, instant cash is much more convenient.” Though shoppers might not agree with Sirajuddin.

(With inputs from Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri and Ritam Halder)