Several street vendors in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi have adopted digital payment methods after the demonetisation announcements, but the lack of response from customers has left them disappointed.
Mahesh Kumar, an egg seller in the Shivpur area of the city, has started using QR (quick response) code to accept payment through e-wallets.
The Union Bank of India (UBI) generates the QR codes for the vendors. Customers who have downloaded the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) app on their smartphones can transfer money to vendors through the interface.
The app, which has been developed by the National Payment Council of India (NPCI), a subsidiary of the RBI, permits any bank account holder to send and receive money from their smartphones without providing their bank details.
“My customers are not interested in using e-platforms to make payments. They find cash transactions more convenient. Only one customer made payment through e-wallet. I try to convince them, but to no avail,” Kumar says.
Kamlesh Kumar Gupta, a snack vendor, has also put up a QR code outside his shop. But he too complains of customer disinterest. “Customers want to pay cash. They find downloading UPI and scanning the QR code too cumbersome. I hope the trend will change in the days to come,” he says.
Sunny, a vegetable vendor, also has a similar story to share. “Customers look at the QR code and ask about it. They buy vegetables and go. None of them seem interested in it, but almost every customer carries a mobile phone,” he said.
The vendors say they have informed UBI officials about the customers’ cold response.
Ranjeet Singh, lead district manager, UBI, said, “We have provided QR codes to about 40 street vendors in the Shivpur area. This is a new system and will get popular gradually. We are planning to organise a programme to sensitise and motivate locals to use e-wallet for making payments.”
“Pamphlets and handbills with tips on downloading the UPI app will be distributed among the locals. The pamphlets are also available with vendors. They will distribute them among their customers,” he added.
Deputy general manager, Punjab National Bank, UN Agarwal said, “The UPI is a very good e-wallet option available with all major nationalised and private banks. This is safer than the Paytm and Mobikwik since it has been developed by the NPCI. It is equipped with the provision of more checks.”