India stepped foot into the cashless era when the government decided to discontinue the old 500 and 1000 rupees notes on November 8, 2016. Ever since then the entire media fraternity is covering this news religiously . This has even become an issue of discussion during tea time, in metro coaches or any family gathering. People are talking about how they have to stand for long hours to withdraw cash from ATMs. Yes it’s obvious everyone is facing problems but it is only short lived. The important question to be answered in this regard is how India can go cashless successfully? This step, of moving towards being cashless, is not only going to unearth the vastly accumulated black money but also pave way for a slow and steady transition of India to a cashless economy.
What is a cashless economy?
A cashless economy is one which hardly uses paper currency and instead uses plastic money for all sorts of transactions. You should keep in mind that going cashless does not imply that there will be no transactions in cash at all. The entire notion of India going cashless might seem like a tough nut to crack but it is not impossible. While the internet has been buzzing with various articles about demonetisation and its effects, we at WishFin have decided to excavate how India can be a trendsetter and embark on a journey of going cashless successfully. Let’s have a look at them-
Laying Infrastructural groundwork
How do you expect a cashless economy to prosper when many citizens of India still don’t have access to mobile phones? Smartphones are a complete must for digital transaction. At the same time good internet network, proper electricity facilities, and mobile towers are very important if you want to think about going completely digital. All these things are crucial ingredients for the perfect recipe of Cashless economy.
Internet penetration is very low in rural areas, which is a matter of concern and for which government should do some serious work. In short if the foundation is strong you can expect your building to stand tall.
Bringing people closer within the sphere of banking
The introduction of Jan Dhan Yojna scheme was a major step by Government of India which was instrumental in opening many accounts. Despite that many rural people don’t have access to banking facility. The government should continue to work vigorously in this matter to bring people one step closer towards a cashless economy. It has to not only ensure that bank accounts are opened but they are operating as well. At the same time, they have to look that bank branches are available at all the rural areas in our country. Having a single bank for 15 villages is not going to help at all.
Imparting Financial and Digital Literacy
Is your maid or milkman literate? Before jumping to financial or digital literacy we must actually talk about general literacy. India’s literacy rate stands at 74.04% which touches rock bottom in many rural areas. For a cashless society, we need people who understand the nuts and bolts of the internet. But here the picture looks gloomy. Mere opening schools don’t fetch education and I believe there must be complete responsibility and accountability from the side of government. After this step is implemented government has to work effortlessly to provide transactional knowledge to the people. It can hold informative talks for people where they are informed about net banking, merits of digitised economy and plastic money.
Why not give more muscle to the fact that having digital information is a sign of social empowerment?
Changing habits and perception
It will take quite a time for a circus lion to adjust in the jungle, isn’t it. The same goes for Indian people as well who are used to dealing in cash for so many years. We Indians have the mentality of feeling secure when we have cash in hand. This perception needs to change immediately. Tell me what’s the point of having debit cards if people just use them for withdrawing cash? People need to start making cashless payments using net banking. It might seem difficult at first but why not make it a routine affair.
Tightening of Cyber Security
Suppose all the above steps are properly implemented and people start making cashless payments enjoying their digital world. But the miscreant hacker is always looking to strike when the iron is red hot. He looks out for easy targets and doesn’t hesitate to transfer someone else’s money into his accounts. The Government needs to pull up its socks and strengthen cyber security in order to boost citizen’s confidence and trust.
Offering various rebates for customers
People in India would rather pay via cash than depend on credit cards. The entire fear of being charged more if you use a credit card should be put to rest. the Government should try to abolish charges on any kind of credit card transaction.Why not offer some kind of tax waiver for people who make digital payments? This is definitely going to be a major turning point in making people go cashless.
Involving school students in digital change
There is no doubt today’s school children are very tech friendly. It doesn’t matter if they belong to a rich or poor background, they can easily embrace technology. Even a ten-year-old schoolboy can operate the phone better than you. Then why not think out of the box, be innovative and make befitting use of this? Making school children from both urban and rural areas a big part of Cashless Campaign can reap great dividends even though it may take some time. Why not provide them hands-on training on how to make digital payments and use net banking. They can then pass on the knowledge to their parents and other community members. Children would not only love their work but actively participate in it.
A thought which is striking my mind- ‘Why should only the government do everything?’ we can play a decisive role as well. Why not follow our PM’s motto of teaching others and helping them to be an active participant of the digital world. I am sure that though it will be a lengthy affair but someday down the line India will accomplish its mission of going cashless. The nefarious government official or policeman will be perplexed then because obviously, you won’t be giving him Cash for his ‘Kharcha Pani’.