Business slump post demonetisation forces small vendors to make 'smart' switch to digital cash
Salim Noor (42), a jewellery seller at Linking Road, Bandra, has begun accepting payment online. Pic/Satej Shinde
Hard times call for digital measures. That's at least how roadside stall owners and vegetable vendors are trying to cope with the shortage of paper cash after demonetisation has led to a shortage of small currency.
From the bhajiwala to the newspaper vendor, small time traders are exploring electronic modes of accepting cash. The mobile wallet market is currently estimated at Rs 160 crore. A study revealed that it is likely to hit Rs 30,000 crore by 2020-2021.
Manoj Gupta of Santlal Gupta vegetable stall accepts cash from e-wallet at his Kalanagar, Bandra, outpost. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
However, with the recent decision of the Modi government, more Indians are shifting to online and digital payment patterns. Dinesh Indulkar, a newspaper vendor from Kalyan’s Rambaug area, says he decided to use Paytm after he found that most of his customers were trying to palm off their R500 and R1,000 notes when he went to collect his monthly dues.
"Usually, their bill vary anywhere between Rs 200 to Rs 250, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to return the change,” said Indulkar. “I then decided to use Paytm. Now, most of my customers pay using the app," he added.
Indulkar said that after he started accepting digital cash, the situation has improved. "But, it will take time to adopt to it," he said. Manoj Gupta, a street-side vegetable vendor from Kalanagar, also decided to opt for digital transaction after feeling the cash crunch.
"I was approached by staff from Paytm. On their advice, I installed the app and informed my customers about it. As many of my customers own smartphones, using mobile wallets has becomes convenient for them too,” said Gupta, adding that on a daily basis, at least four to five of his customers opt for online transactions.
In Bandra, many stall owners that line the popular shopping streets, Hill Road and Linking Road, have registered themselves on Paytm, so that they don’t lose customers due to lack of change.
"Post demonetisation, our business suffered badly. We had to struggle to convince customers to buy our products. Now, at least, we can provide our customers with an easy and convenient mode of payment," said Muhammad Aslam (52), a cloth vendor at Linking Road.
Several vegetable vendors have also turned to electronic modes of accepting cash after losing customers. Pic/Satej Shinde
Some shop owners are accepting e-wallet transactions for products that cost as less as Rs 30. Salim Noor (42), who sells accessories at Linking Road, has placed a board near his stall that reads 'Paytm accepted'. Noor, who sells products ranging from Rs 20 to Rs 300, says he accepts Paytm transactions for all his wares.
According to Noor, ever since he started accepting digital cash, his customers have started buying more accessories from him. "If the customer makes the payment online, he/she buys more than three to four items from us. This is profitable for us too," he said.
Speaking to mid-day, Lala Bhaskar (45), a customer who paid through e-wallet at Linking Road, said, "Almost all the hawkers at Linking Road and Hill Road are accepting digital cash. Now, we don’t have to scrap items from our shopping list."