Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Cashless economy: Trust is sacred

RK Rishikesh Sinha
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a cashless economy is achievable. It is absolutely possible. Technology is available with us, the greatest challenge, however, is to change people’s mind. We have to educate people about the whole financial infrastructural touch points through which money gets transacted.

It seems simple. The fact is: it is not. Since 2009 I have been closely following the development taking place in the finance-related digital space. India is so big and diverse; there are people who simply don’t know about NEFT? Forget about IMPS and (Pre-paid/ Closed System/ Semi-Closed System/ Open System) Payment Instruments. And there are people who don’t believe on banks even! They have love-hate relationship with banks.

The state of affair is that if I tell a person to deposit to my account Rs 100 without physically going to a bank. He or she will not be able to do it. They don’t know the options available with them. However, the same person is willing to learn it lest he or she is being taught. They are eager to learn the tricks given the proper guidance and knowledge.

Besides this, there is deficit of trust among Indians about money. They fear more about the result -- in case of failure of transaction, denial of the receiver getting the money so on and so forth. Here lies the crux of the success. Technology has to be robust, complaints has to be automated and resolved in time frame. We have to educate ourselves and others with the channels involved in the process from the sender to the receiver.

The ways through which money could be transacted digitally could be adopted easily by us. Again I would say the trust and confidence of the sender and the receiver of the money is tantamount. The trust has to be kept intact and sacred. Here comes the challenge.

Initially, the receiver of the money has to work as a guide to the payer. He or she has to be well-versed with the financial ecosystem through which money is transacted digitally. He/she must have knowledge about respective banks’ wallets, and other independent e-wallets like Airtel Money, Paytm, mobikwick etc. In addition to it, other products like UPI and USSD. It is very tough to make people believe that a mobile number can be used to hold money. In the nutshell, your mobile phone would work as your wallet. Here, the NPCI website comes handy to begin with and websites of respective banks.

The future is interesting. It would curtail crime and terror financing, leakages, transaction costs, administrative and overhead costs. However, the present time reminds me of the time when electronic mails (emails) came in front of us.
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