This article was written by Akanksha Omar, a student of Galgotias University.
No one ever thought about surviving without cash, it’s like a basic necessity to survive. This was understood about our Honorable Prime Minister also, and he admitted that making a cashless society is nearly too impossible therefore he urged to move towards cash less society. However this whole demonetization process which was processed to dig out the black money and prevent terrorism has been mixed with cashless economy, therefore it’s become difficult to achieve even one of the two.A large amount of population is not in the banking network, there daily transactions are in cash, reducing cash transactions will lead them to no work. Even if they have bank accounts, it’s just for savings. Credit Cards and Debit Cards are a new thing for them.
Cashless transactions depend on number of things such as awareness, technological advancements, and education. Will government able to provide such technological advancements, in all over the country. Will such awareness will be spread, will education and high technology use will be provided to all of us. We are talking about awareness, seriously, from the time of independence government is trying to aware society about child marriage, save girl child, dowry, education, domestic violence and many more things. Is government able to succeed, though there is no doubt that stringent actions have been taken, but these activities are still existing? Then what is the surety that cashless economy will be awareness will be spread all over the country. We are talking about education, according to government, only primary education is made mandatory, that too is not provided to everyone. But even though it is provided, is primary education sufficient for us to do the cashless transactions. Are government schools expected to teach children about paying from cards or smart phones? Technology, yes there are many technological advancements, but is everyone using it. Is it provided in rural areas, villages, small towns and will it be provided?
We live in an economy where 90% of the workforce, works in an unorganized sector, it will not be easier for them to work in a cashless society. They earn daily wages, they earn their living on daily basis, and how will it be possible for them to do cashless transactions on a daily basis. They eat food, buy things from street vendors, who neither own swapping machines nor the smart phones mobile applications. Even buyers found more convenient to pay in cash.
There is a huge increase in cashless transactions in recent times, but this is only accessed by the youth of the country, what about the old people, who need spectacles to do their minute works, how will they manage, what about small children nearly about 10 to 15 years of age, they are send by their parents to buy some things, they are given cash to buy those things , not smart phones or credit/debit cards to pay for it , what about the illiterate society , who even don’t know the counting , they just identify the notes and pay the amount. Are old people expected to learn the complexities of these things at this age , are parents expected not to send their children to buy things or are they expected to provide them with smart phones or cards , are illiterate people expected to study first , learn to do the cashless transactions , then only they will able to buy things. Most of the people who own cards fear that they will be charged more if they will do pay through them, there is a lack of awareness among people about the benefits of Cards.
In all these scenarios, how can the perspective of Cyber Hacking be ignored. Banks, Mobile Wallets claim that they are safe, but can we trust them, are they sure that hackers will not able to hack their sites and misuse our life earnings. The research has showed that how easy it is to use software’s to crack someone PIN’s from their Phone wallets, if they have phones in their possession, how easy it is to steal Debit or Credit Cards and crack their PIN’s. This means we are expected to not to lose our phones or our cards, because if we lose them or someone stole it, not only we will lose our phones but also our life earnings. How much trust we can do in these wallets can be seen when Google too had a temporary shutdown of feature Google Wallet that allowed users to load their prepaid cards details onto their smartphones due to some security vulnerability who swears that their wallet is more secure than cash and credit cards. This is only one example, but there are many too and there will be many such similar hacks.
What about when we will use our phones , if our phone dies we will not be able to buy anything, what about if we are using a digital wallet, and that wallet is shutdown remotely , will by using these digital wallets our financial accounts will not be exposed to hackers for a new kind of abuse. There are many ways in which a hacker can exploit the system. There is no clarity that how a theoretical database which will store all of our information would work, would be accessed. Bringing a cashless society will mean availability of swapping machines all over the country, smart phones are available to everyone, and that too with internet. It’s been made difficult by banks to use digital wallets by private sector companies as a long procedure is to be followed before paying and it could also be a restriction on using bank accounts to transfer money in digital wallets. Also there is lack of access to Payment Gateways.
There have been many different surveys on our economy and cashless society. These surveys also bring us to a fact that at this point of time, it’s risky to bring such change. According to a 2015 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, India’s unbanked population is 233 million. According to research there are only about 1.46 million points of sale which accept payments through cards.The ratio of cash to gross domestic product is one of the highest in the world—12.42% in 2014, compared with 9.47% in China or 4% in Brazil.India had 76.47 billion currency notes in circulation in 2012-13 compared with 34.5 billion in the US.A report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Google India revealed that last year around 75 per cent of transactions in India was cash-based, while in developed nations such as the US, Japan, France, Germany etc. it was around 20-25 per cent.
Many regulations will have to be enacted against such behavior by banks, proper cooperation will be needed. Abolishment of Government Fees, Tax rebates,making electronic Infrastructure safe and secure, Minimizing Cyber Crimes,and Sharp eye will have to be kept by regulators keep the financial system safe and trustworthy. We are not sure that whether India is ready to adapt this cashless society or not , we are not sure that whether government is ready to impose so many regulations or not , will this cashless society will not be against any legal provision , will it not violate any of our Fundamental Right , our Democracy. There are many questions unanswered and till the time these questions are answered, its better we stay where we are.