Amid Currency Crunch, E-Wallets Cash In

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For those who are digitally connected, the e-wallet is lending quite a helping hand.

New Delhi:  As people seek more options to go cashless, the mobile phone is slowly becoming the new wallet. It is helping even men like Harishankar Pandey, a pan shop owner in Delhi, with customers using apps and e-wallets to make small value transactions.

"This is very practical. On an average, about 20-25 persons use apps like Paytm, Swiggy every day," said Mr Pandey.

It is the reason even customers like Kunal Kalra and Ranajit Mukherjee aren't worried about counting the currency in their wallets before making buying decisions.

"In the last few days, I've used Paytm and MobiKwik to pay electricity and utility bills and even to have pan... It's fairly convenient especially when there are no notes in your wallet," said Mr Mukherjee.

"I'm using it for cab rides, restaurant billing. I haven't been able to go an ATM and my bank doesn't show the balance so I'm topping up on my e-wallet to avoid," added Mr Kalra.

In the last one week since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surprise announcement of debarring old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes, mobile wallets have seen a surge in their activity. Paytm says it saw a 200 per cent increase in app downloads on the first day itself with a 250 per cent spike in overall transactions. Freecharge said that the average wallet balance increased 12 times on the first day after the announcement.

But there's also a word of caution from this restaurant. Deepak Shetty, Owner of Mysore Cafe in New Delhi was a regular Paytm user and started using it recently to accept payments from customers at his restaurant.

"I didn't know there was a 10,000 limit," he said, adding "a customer paid Rs 844, two days later it showed as refunded since I exceeded the limit. I don't know the customer so it's a loss for me."

Another challenge for these wallets is access which is still limited. As per India Live Stats, 2016, under 35 per cent of India's population has internet access. The Internet and Mobile Association of India report of February this year says only 9 per cent of rural India uses mobiles.

But for now, for those who are digitally connected, the e-wallet is lending quite a helping hand, all while keeping the cash in hand safe in the pocket.

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