Chennai: Ever since it made landfall on Monday, Cyclone Vardah has crippled cashless transactions in Chennai. Over 48 hours later, there is still no electricity, mobile or internet connectivity in several areas as uprooted electric poles and damaged transformers are yet to be fixed.
Shops and hotels are saying no to payment by cards as their swipe machines don't work. Tamaarah Sarah Balachander had to pay all the cash in her pocket to eat this meal at the hotel. "Transactions are not going through. Lots of machines not working," she said.
Andrea Jacob, a fitness instructor, adds, "Three days no power, without cash how are we going to operate? Give me an option."
Namratha Joseph, who owns the Cuckoo Club Diner restaurant in a posh area in the city, has seen a 50 per cent dip in customers. It is a double whammy: cash crunch and card crisis.
"We had to turn customers away. Our card machines weren't working," she said.
Nithya Titus, a customer who had switched to plastic money long time ago feels it was an eye opener. "Last two days" she adds "have taught us we need cash also. We can't really go cashless."
Most ATMs are shut without power and internet. The few working have long queues. Krithika and Reshma said they've been ATM-hopping for two hours.
"Even many banks are not functioning as there's no electricity," said Reshma.
Experts say Cyclone Vardah has come as an acid test for the country's preparedness to go cashless. That it may augur well for the government to ensure it is also calamity proof.