22 Nov 2016 14:24 IST

Chaiwalas, vegetable vendors go the digital way

This shows that people are managing by different means

“No cash? No problem. Please transfer ₹6 to my mobile.’’ This is what Maheshwari, a tea-vendor has been telling his customers for the last couple of days.

For this 45-year-old, who runs a tea-shop at Ashoknagar, Hyderabad, currency paucity has become a challenge, thanks to demonetisation. But now, he is happy after he started using Paytm, a digital payment mode.

“Cash/change is a problem not only for customers but also for me which made me start accepting mobile payments. There has been good response from customers,’’ he told BusinessLine.

He is not alone. R Ramanamma, who sells vegetables in Rythu Bazar, Mehdipatnam, has a similar tale to tell. “It’s not just me. Some wholesale-sellers and contractors from whom we buy our goods have started using it as all of us have mobiles,’’ she said.

Even though many banks claim that ATMs are “100 per cent’’ operational, the ground reality is different as most of the ATMs are either shut or display “no cash” boards. Hence, the search for an alternative channels.

Kannadasan makes a living selling fruits from a push cart in Chennai. “We are getting by and adjusting somehow,” he says. Wholesalers accept ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes “as long as I buy for the whole amount and do not expect any change. I, too, do not mind accepting a ₹500 note occasionally,” he says.

At a neighbourhood department store, the owner sits at the cash counter with a notice saying “₹500/1,000 not accepted”. Business is slow, he shrugs, with just ₹2,000 denomination notes floating around. “Where is the cash in smaller denominations for change?” he asks.

He now uses digital payment. “It is quite easy. You just download the app, register and tap out my phone number and the money is transferred instantly. I never thought of such things till a week ago,” he says.

According to agency reports, digital payments company Paytm has been witnessing over seven million transactions worth ₹120 crore a day and it crossed $5 billion gross merchandise value (GMV), which indicates total worth of goods sold through a digital platform.

All this shows that people are managing by different means. While digital payments are a possibility, there are also many who are not savvy enough yet. Large denomination notes continue to circulate in many places as banks disburse mostly ₹2,000 notes but smaller denomination currency is scarce.