In the month of November 2016, the demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 currency notes in India led common men through troubled times. In the wake of opposition and rising voices of dissent, the government changed its stance from citing black money as a reason to aiming for a cashless society. But the vision of people effortlessly swiping away on their smartphones to make their daily purchase is light years away from reality.
There is a difference between becoming a cashless economy and becoming a “cashless enabled” economy. A cashless economy is loosely described as an economy striving on digital transactions where all strata’s of monetary dealings are digital and credit based. There is no iota of hard cash used in regular dealings. The entire flow of cash in the economy is digital in nature.
A developing nation like India without sufficient infrastructure needs realistic stepstones as visions. Instead of striving towards a cashless economy, the country should strive on becoming “cashless enabled” economy where people have an option of paying in digital. A place with freedom of paying in hard cash or through digital means without being forced to go an extra mile on either side.
Although people have managed to tide over the currency shortage created by demonetisation for their daily needs, the struggle for majority continues. People have given credit where they can, but everyone still prefers and wants cash.
While the rich might have fallen back on cash out of habit, for the poorer families lack of means dictates to make the choices they make. They barely have money in the bank, how can they purchase a smartphone or a card let alone use them?
There is a thin line between going cashless and becoming “cashless enabled”. Let us strive for the latter.