Cashless India- Boon or Bane?
“On the surface, cashlessness seems benign, but when you reflect on it, the insidious racism that underlies a cashless business model becomes clear.”
A cashless transaction is an automated or online operation that may take place between two people, businesses, or organizations. All financial trades are executed electronically rather than using banknotes. Several countries around the world have been steadily moving towards a completely cashless society for several years, with the charge of Sweden. India also joined the run in 2016, with the elimination of the highest denomination bills.
In India, the government initiated a “Cashless India” program to increase the use of digital currency. It is a flagship program with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society. “Faceless, Paperless, Cashless” is one of the professed roles of Digital India.
Cashless transactions occur through a variety of mediums like Cheques and Demand Drafts, Debit and Credit cards, UPI, Digital wallets, Net Banking, etc. While digital money’s popularity is on the rise, especially in the current scenario of a pandemic, the pros and cons of a cashless economy remain.
Cashless transactions are convenient since it is easier to carry a smartphone than carrying real money. Some users also argue that tracking expenditure and maintaining budget discipline is more relaxed with digital money. As a result, they can save more. Another way it helps consumers save money is that many platforms provide discounts on cashless transactions. On a national level, it helps keep millions of taxpayer money that goes into printing new currency. It is a well-known fact that the lifetime of a currency note is less than six years. Since all transactions are computer-mediated, time and energy consumed on calculations is saved. Another advantage may be more natural currency exchange while traveling internationally.
With the Coronavirus pandemic, the use of cashless transactions has witnessed a considerable increase. The main reason attributed to the same is to limit the spread of infection through the currency notes.
A cashless economy is not all roses. Talking in the context of India, internet penetration in 2016 was reported to be 34.8%. Also, a massive part of our population has limited access to the digital world. This incomplete digitalization poses a serious question: Are we even prepared to embrace a completely cashless economy? Small scale manufacturers often find it challenging to carry out cashless transactions because of limited access to technology.
Also, a significant number of people in India lead lives entirely depending on daily wages. Such people prefer not to use banks. There is also an increased risk of identity theft. People who are not tech-savvy, struggle to keep their banking details safe. Cybertheft is also common in our country. Additionally, some people also find it difficult to control their spending if there is no real money loss.
To conclude, a cashless economy sounds like a promising new advancement, but before we ultimately adopt it, we must equip all sections of our society so that nobody lags.