After the announcement of cashless transactions at Surajkund International Crafts Mela, many heaved a sigh of relief. The authorities have provided at least 100 POS machines to the shopkeepers, there is also a bank branch in the area, two permanent ATM points and six ATM vans.
Yet, while many sellers might be accepting cashless transactions, many are facing practical problems implementing the initiative.
Artisans from other countries had no clue about the cashless initiative, and the crash crunch might still be pinching some buyers. Jakkapan Silalikhit, an artisan from Thailand, says, “We knew nothing about it, and were not informed about the cashless stuff. And we also realised that visitors don’t have enough cash to purchase expensive artworks. We don’t have machines to accept cards and online payments. We are facing a loss.”
Manisha Saraf, a visitor at the mela, says, “I wanted to buy this artefact from the Kazakhstan stall, but they aren’t accepting payments through cards.” In addition to that, the ATMs also ran out of money. “I thought of withdrawing money from the ATM, but guess it was an unlucky day, there was no money in it,” she says.
“We have guitars and Ektara made up of rosewood and its very unique in nature, so slightly expensive. And there is a great demand for them, however, we didn’t know about the payment mode, so we have no arrangements for it,” says Azamat, the manager of the stall.
However, the cashless drive is being welcomed by several others. “I heard about the cashless initiative and I was delighted. Because it means I can come to the fair without worrying about pick pocketers,” says Megha Gupta, a visitor, who has been coming to the mela for the past 4 years.
Jhabhar from Uttar Pradesh, who is selling lac artefacts says, “It is nice to get these machines, because now visitors aren’t looking at their pockets and saying ‘ek hi item kharid saktey hain cash khatam’. In fact, I will get a machine for my shop back home also, now that I know how it works.”