Bangalore, November 24 2016: Amidst the hassle and pain of having to push and shove in unending queues for hours on end, to get back a fraction of our own hard earned money, there was a brighter moment or two.
The infinitely patient aam aadmi applauded the government's move to flush out black money, even as the same government visited needless agony on millions of citizens, through its poor planning for demonetization.
Yet the innate jugaad or frugal engineering of ordinary Indians surfaced here and there to sustain small businesses for whom cash was king. Nowhere more so than in Pune. A PTI report highlighted that Laxman Kachi a tea seller, in the Sangvi area, faced with zero customers, harnessed technology to get back into business. He signed up to register as a merchant with an e-wallet service so that customers -- at least those who themselves patronized the same service-- could buy his tea again. From zilch, his business grew again to some 600-700 rupees a day: not great but enough to survive.
In an unintended side effect the government's ham handed arrangements in banks and ATMs has spurred popular acceptance of cashless e-payments in a way no amount of normal marketing could have achieved. |
The advantage of the half dozen or so e-wallet apps available in India is that you don't need a debit card, credit card or access to an internet banking password for making payment You need a way of loading your e-wallet ofcourse and that is easiest done by an online transfer. But once your wallet is loaded, you can make a variety of payments at merchants, taxis, theatres, restaurants as well as paying almost all kinds of monthly utility bills.
But one caution: Each e-wallet brand has links with a fixed number of enterprises that accept payment. Some are primarily for mobile recharge and TV bill payments. Also you have to lock up your money in the wallet --and once the current crises is over -- in 50 days as the PM claims -- will you still use the e-wallet?
There are in fact 3 types of wallets:|
1. Closed. This can be used only for one merchant: like Flipkart, Olacab, Jabong etc
2. Semi closed: All e-wallets listed below fall in this category: They work at multiple but not at all merchant sites.
3. Open. These are created by banks ( HDFC Chillar, ICICI Pockets, SBI Chillar, DBS Digibank, ICICI Pockets etc) and additionally can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs through a physical card ( hardly a plus point right now!). All of them are now part of government's Universal Payments Interface.
Some Indian e-wallets
Paytm. Possibly the most widely used and has the largest tie ups with merchants
PayUMoney. Offers fixed discounts on payments .Claims over 1 lakh merchants
MobiKwik claims 25 million users; has recently taken a lot of grocery chains and food outlests on board
Oxigen is one of the first in this business. Money can be transferred to any mobile number -- which is great for small vendors and friends.
FreeCharge as the name indicates was primarily a "recharge with benefits" service -- but it has expanded into other vendors.