PACHU MENON, MARGAO
FOR a nation very keen on going cashless at the earliest, the reluctance shown by many a shopkeeper to accept ‘plastic money’ for sales made is indeed baffling. For that matter, attempts at rebuffing the use of credit and debit cards in the market appear to be scaling a new pitch with vendors showing a distinct propensity for having the customers settling their bills in cash. Although the merchant agreement signed between the business owner and credit card companies stipulates that the merchant should not discriminate against a card payment by charging anything additional over the actual cost of the product or service offered, the practice of levying surcharges on such transactions finding favour with many from the merchant fraternity in the country has hampered any visions of the country adopting a cashless economy in the immediate future. While acknowledging cashless transactions stand to benefit both the merchants and consumers, a lack of awareness about the nuances of financial digitalisation has been the major cause for the unwarranted apprehensions harboured over going cashless. For instance, the 0.75 per cent discount whenever payments are made by the swiping of credit cards at petrol pumps makes fuel that much cheaper for the vehicle owner. Digital payments ensure that all transactions are on record and helps in better budgeting. It could also be adieus to the intermittent cycle of ‘change and coins crisis’ that plagues the country so often. Hence, as a decisive step towards encouraging a cashless economy it is heartening to hear that the government is working on a proposal to incentivise digital transactions by providing cashbacks to businesses and price benefits to consumers. As per the proposal being worked out by the revenue department, consumers paying through the digital mode would be offered a discount over the MRP while businesses could get a cashback based on the quantum of turnover through the digital mode. Even then, could we Indians be depended upon not to switch back to the former ease of using cash? However, considering the poor quality of Internet connectivity that the nation laments over, card-swiping has come with its own problems for the consumer. Moreover, given the tedious process and poor grievance redressal, people will have no recourse if they lose money online. Yet, going cashless is a worthwhile proposition the nation can look forward to.