Home >Industry >Banking >Demonetisation: Cash is not evil

The latest data on currency in circulation offers fresh evidence that India’s reliance on cash is not falling. Reserve Bank of India figures show a surge to a record high of 21.41 trillion as on 15 March, almost 20% more than the 17.97 trillion rustling around in paper form on the eve of demonetisation.

This is roughly in line with the economy’s nominal growth since, but it does suggest that people cannot be pushed into a digital economy. Not yet.

There is wide mistrust in digital transactions, which are seen as less secure. Internet is a novelty for most Indians and it’s scary for them to think of faceless beings having online access to their money. This is a country where many still need convincing to open bank accounts. Then there are problems of connectivity, which force cash even into the wallets of the most net-savvy. Hidden fees don’t help the cause either. All of this makes a cashless society sound like a utopian dream. The lesson: thrusting change never works. Net penetration needs to deepen, e-fraud needs to dwindle and e-payments need to be incentivized. If people still choose not to adopt e-money, nobody should fret. It’s a matter of free choice. 

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