Is India ready for a cashless economy, Being resistant to change is fundamental to human nature, but one needs to embrace new things in order to evolve. That’s how our society has evolved over the millennium.
After the announcement of demonetization on the 9th of November, 2016, India realized the importance of a cashless economy. So for people, who were well apprised of Mobile banking, Internet banking, etc., maneuvering through the difficulties became a little less cumbersome.
A cashless economy is a system wherein the cash flow is negligible, and the financial transaction is done via electronic medium.
India is ready for a cashless economy.
Benefits of a cashless economy
Step#1. Tax evasion will be difficult- According to a survey, only 4% of India’s earning population pays tax. By just 4%, we are the sixth-largest economy; imagine where our economy would be if this number went up to 80%.
Step#2. Ease in doing a financial transaction
Step#3. Lower risk – If one does not carry cash, India is ready for a cashless economy getting mugged reduces significantly. This is a significant problem in the rural parts of the country.
Step#4. Reduced cost of printing, and circulating currency- From 2016 to 2018, RBI spent 11 thousand crores on printing new notes. 23.6% of India’s population lives below the poverty line. This money could easily have been used for their upliftment.
Step#5. Fake currency – In a cashless economy, the question of fake currency goes down the drain.
Step#6. It also helps mitigate the root causes of corruption like money laundering, criminal activity, and Hawala transaction and gives the Government more control over drugs and human trafficking.
Now, coming to the big question. How do we achieve it? Is our country literate enough to handle this kind of technology? What about rural India?
How do we achieve a cashless economy?
For starters, I would like to point out that you don’t have to be tech-savvy to perform basic transactions in applications like BHIM, Paytm, etc. In fact, with the advent of Jio, people, especially in rural areas, have started using Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube, etc., more than before. So if they can learn Facebook, and Twitter they can very easily learn to operate banking applications.
My suggestion is to start slowly with one village in a district. Making people aware of the technology, encouraging them to use it by giving incentives or discounts and if it is a success then implement it in the surrounding areas. If there are any repercussions, then make amendments. If the Government does not have enough resources, then it can employ NGOs for this.
Laura in Budgam district has become the first village in Jammu and Kashmir to go cashless. CSC e-Governance Services India Limited started by training one person from a family about the electronic payment system (EPS). Some villages in Goa have also become cashless.
Some people contend that India is not literate enough; the literacy rate of India is 74.04%. Right now, 97% of our children are going to school. It means that in the coming years, the literacy rate is poised to increase.
By the end of 2019, there will be 813.2 million mobile phone users in India. Hence the technology has spread enough. Now it’s just about awareness.
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Government steps toward a cashless economy
The Government has also taken several initiatives to encourage people toward digitalization of the banking system viz. In August 2015, RBI gave a payment banking license to 11 entities. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna is ensuring that every citizen, if eligible, must have a bank account. It has launched Rupay, Adhar enabled payment system, which does not require an internet connection. There is a discount of 10% on the fare in the Delhi metro on the usage of the metro card. 5% discount on digital payment for the railway, catering, accommodation, retiring room, etc. 10% discount on National highway toll payments via RFID or first-tags.
It goes without saying that the above is not enough, but we are continuously making progress, and in a few years, we will be there. However, our infrastructure needs to improve. There are only 2.3 lakh ATMs. Accessibility to an ATM in the metro cities is good, but in tier 2 cities and rural areas, it is rather challenging to find an ATM.
There are loopholes, and they will always be there unless we work upon them; we need to take the initiative. Procrastination is never the solution.