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India had a boom in digital payments after it began unlocking the economy at the start of June after more than two months of covid closure. Such transactions witnessed a jump of 23% in volume over the past 30 days, energized by payments for insurance premia and mutual funds, utility bills and e-commerce, according to a report by Razorpay, an e-payments tool. The increase was also helped by a release of pent-up consumer demand, as several e-commerce sites dangled attractive discounts to clear inventory.

If the leap is not a blip and e-payments retain momentum, the covid pandemic might achieve what demonetization failed to. That 2016 withdrawal of high-value currency notes was partly aimed at boosting digital payments, which leaves an electronic trail for authorities to crack down on illegal dealings. But soon, cash re-emerged as king. Today, with covid fears stalking us, people are minimizing the exchange of paper notes. Market visits are judiciously being avoided as well. This places e-payments at a big advantage. To be sure, many prefer the untraceability of cash for transactions. But even they must have given cash a rethink.

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