People make purchases by using debit cards at a shop in Indore. Plastic money has helped people tide over the currency crisis.(Arun Mondhe / HT photo)
People make purchases by using debit cards at a shop in Indore. Plastic money has helped people tide over the currency crisis.(Arun Mondhe / HT photo)

Note ban: Health sector in Indore moves towards cashless payments

In the wake of demonetisation, the health sector in Indore is moving towards accepting cashless payments with hospitals, doctors and chemists asking patients to make payments through cards or e-wallets.
By HT Correspondent | Divya Raje Bhonsale, Indore
UPDATED ON NOV 22, 2016 09:21 AM IST

In the wake of demonetisation, the health sector in Indore is moving towards accepting cashless payments with hospitals, doctors and chemists asking patients to make payments through cards or e-wallets.

The step came in after doctors, hospitals and chemists faced a shortage of cash.

“People would either give us banned currency or the new Rs 2,000 banknotes. We can’t accept the banned currency, nor do we have enough change to give them. Thus, moving towards plastic money seemed like a feasible idea for us,” said Dr Sunil Banthia, owner of Banthia Hospital, while talking to Hindustan Times.

While many are opting for swipe machines, there are people who are accepting payments through the mode of e-wallets as well.

“We had signed up with a mobile payment gateway long ago and now we are making best use of it by asking our customers to pay us through e-wallet. Although people are not used to this process, but we don’t really have an option as there is cash crunch in the market,” said Vishal Gulati who runs a medical agency at Dawa Bazaar.

While the business doers have found a way out to receive their payments, it is the patients who are at the losing end, facing problems through new ways of transactions.

Says Neeraj Bishnoi, a farmer, “My wife had to be operated but the hospital denied taking the banned notes I had. I then had to use my debit card, which I’m not used to, to clear the bills. I have not used it before but I guess that’s the only way for doing any transaction.”

Enquires for card swiping machines have tripled since demonetisation.

Parminder Panesar, spokesperson for Axis Bank says, “Enquiries for card machines, especially among the doctors, have gone three times than before. The demand for debit cards had increased. However, it is difficult to give an exact figure.”

On the other hand, mobile payment solution companies as seeing this step as a boon for their business.

Manoj Thapa, sales head with QuikWallet, a mobile payment solution says, “People are using their mobile phones to make payments. We have many clients such as doctors, paan walas and other traders who are asking their customers to pay through mobiles irrespective of the amount.”

Situation improves at banks, ATMs in Indore

The queues at many banks and ATMs in the city were shorter on Monday and more automated teller machines became functional. “With new Rs 500 banknotes coming to the banks and most ATMs getting calibrated, the situation has eased to a great extent. The restrictions on cash withdrawal have also reduced the rush,” said an ICICI bank official who did not wish to be named.

The rush for depositing old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes has also reduced, he said.

Some private banks are also utilizing this opportunity to make the customers KYC compliant by asking them to link their Aadhaar card number.

As per the government’s announcement, customers were allowed to withdraw up to Rs 2,500 per day from ATMs while the weekly withdrawal limit over the counter is Rs 24,000.

However, most ATMs that are functional are dispensing only Rs 2,000 and Rs 100 banknotes. The banks are trying to recalibrate their machine for Rs 500 banknotes but it will take some days before they start tendering both Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 banknotes.

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