After the demonetization drive, the government is now pushing India towards a digital trajectory. It is clearly evident from the recent speeches and statements given by our PM and Finance Minister, that they are taking it very seriously and are trying their best to transit from cash to less cash society first and targeting to become a cash-less society later. Reading all the news bulletins and TV advertisements, it all looks like a cake-walk. But is it as easy as it sounds?

So what is stopping us from going digital?

This question isn’t valid for the well-educated and salaried professionals since they get their salaries deposited into their bank accounts by month-end and thus, they are already accustomed to the digital economy. The question pops up into our heads when we think about the illiterate and poor people, who neither have any bank accounts nor any smartphones. So the main reasons for sticking to the cash flow can be stated as:

People who are illiterate and poor can’t read and write, can’t afford bank accounts and smartphones, hence deal with cash only.
The internet speed is another deterring factor as for real-time transactions, the current speed of Internet in most of the regions in India is pretty slow.
Indian banks are more prone to get hacked compared to foreign banks due to lack of cyber security layer in banks.
Most of the merchants charge 2-5% of extra charge if the customer opts for digital payment modes.
Despite the low internet speed, the internet prices are high. Thus, in a family of four, generally 1 or 2 individuals will have internet connections on their phones.

Then how to go digital despite the current problems?

Transiting smoothly from cash payments to digital payments is an area where both the government of India and citizens of India need to work rigorously. Let’s talk about the initiatives that have been taken by the government already.

1. The monthly rental for a swipe machine has been reduced from Rs.650 per month to Rs.100 per month.
2. Over 6.5 lakhs swipe machines have been integrated with new merchants, small vendors including the remote villages.
3. Transaction charges for digital payments have been waived off till year-end by the government.
4. The government has started rewards initiatives for cashless customers which can get a customer awarded up to Rs.1000 on a daily lucky draw basis.
5. The government has started programs like “DigiShala” and website called “www.cashlessindia.gov.in” to make the people of India aware of existing and upcoming options for digital payments. Besides this, the government has connected with 30,000 students from 2400 colleges across India to train them about Cashless payments. These students after the training would act as a brand ambassador of Digital Payments and would help others to go digital too.
6. RBI had made it mandatory for every bank to have a cyber security team to allow more secure banking.
There are many more initiatives that are implemented by the government for this transition and every day the team is introducing more exciting features and rewards to push people towards Digital Economy.

How can YOU help in this transition?

I have heard people saying that my grandfather doesn’t know how to pay by card, or my mom isn’t comfortable with online payment methods, or my maid isn’t aware of such means and doesn’t hold a smartphone or bank account, so digitization of economy is a flop show and can never happen in India.But what are we doing from our side to make this step a success? Can you think about why and how we should go digital rather than citing reasons why we can’t and shouldn’t?

We, the youth of India, constitute over 65% population in India. If we look back in history, you would see that whenever the youth of India had adopted and supported any idea, it had become a success. Then why can’t we do the same for going digital? We can take the initiative of educating and encouraging everyone around us including our grandparents and house servants to go digital. We can visit different sections of our cities and villages to make people learn the digital ways of payment. There are numerous options available today listed below.

Digital payment modes:-

digital

(Image courtesy: http://www.cashlessindia.gov.in)

1. By Credit and Debit cards, especially for people who don’t have any smartphones.
2. By Internet Banking, Mobile Banking, Paytm, PayPal, Mobikwik, Google wallet etc. With smartphones and internet connectivity all you need is a button click on your phone to transact. There are numerous options available for this mode.
3. Airtel Money, Vodafone M-Pesa are some other digital payment means acting like a mobile wallet that doesn’t need any smartphone or internet connection. Through these mediums, you can sell and purchase with any phone that you have. You just need to top up your wallet like you recharge your phone and you are good to go.

The biggest benefit of going digital is that now, you don’t have to be worried about safeguarding your cash or taking your wallet along with you everywhere or trying to get change for very small amount purchases, it can all be done with just a swipe or just a button click.

We have ditched the dependency on internet speeds, smartphones, and mobile networks long back. Every problem has a solution and the problem of “How to go digital?” is no exception. If you have a smartphone or easy access to the Internet, go for internet banking, mobile banking, digital and mobile wallets. If you don’t have these facilities, you can always use the swipe machines and banking cards or USSD or UPI for that matter. All it needs is an open mind willing to act for the betterment of the country. We have always been grumbling about black money, corruption and counterfeited currency, and this is our one big shot to tackle all these issues in one go.

Yes, it is grueling for people who can’t read and write and the government should take some steps to curb the illiteracy issue too, but we can also help at an individual level to help people in surviving and becoming a pro in this economy reboot. Today, India is emerging as a superpower in technology sector across the globe, let us add the cashless society to the success list.

Let’s get through this phase together, start the journey to the cashless economy today and let this be the last time we stand in bank queues. Let’s welcome 2017 by bidding adieu to cash economy and 2016 together.

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