Cashless Transactions: Are We Really Getting Benefited?

May 9, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Till today, I thought myself to be privileged being one avid user of cashless transaction system. Yes, I belong to one of the tech-savvy new generation and have decided to choose for cashless economy, following the Honorable government’s appeal (read the most dynamic PM’s ) for the same. So, I have registered for an account in our home-grown payment wallet service paytm. For last few months, I have been using paytm in shopping, to book cab, to recharge my mobile and what not. But, gradually, some facts started appearing in front of me.

I use Uber cab service for my daily travel to office and any other places within the city. So, when I request for cabs with the option of Paytm payment, it appeared that the fares are slightly higher than the cash payment, means I need to pay more if I go digital; contrary to the governments push for no cash economy. Secondly, with paytm options, many time it happens that the cab drivers either don’t respond to the call or don’t turn up, forcing me to cancel the trips at the expenses of some fine. On inquiry, I got to know that since they don’t get that money from the cab  service provider, they don’t respond to such paytm payment options! Strange or not, I leave this for you to decide.

Still, I continued to opt for digital transactions., because of its convenience and may be because of the sense of satisfaction of contributing my part towards the cashless economy. But, today, after a bitter experience, I am asking myself, why I am using these facilities if they leave me at most uncomfortable situation at a time of urgency? Let me share my experience with Uber and paytm today.

We are having some medical emergencies going on in the family and I had to rush to hospital to consult a doctor. Since I had a lesser amount in my Paytm account and didn’t have sufficient cash, I decided to add some Rs 400 in my paytm account and booked an uber cab. The trip cost me Rs 86.89 and hence, after that the account balance should have been approximately Rs 449. After the discussion with the doctor was over, I was again trying to book another cab through my Uber app. But to my utter dismay, my Paytm wallet as well as my uber account, both shows a balance of Rs 99 only, which is way below the minimum balance requirement of Rs 350 to book a cab in uber with Paytm payment. Initially, I thought may be because my app is not getting adequate internet access or some technical issues are going on, so I tried signing out and signing in again. But, there has been no change in my balance leaving me unable to book a cab. So, my condition is – a medical emergency at home forcing me to return at the earliest, very limited cash in hand and two mobile apps, practically of no use because of their technical faults.

Now, you can say, I could have booked a cab with cash payment option and then drop at some ATM to take out the money. Yes, I could have done that. But, when you have a bill of less than Rs 100 and you are forced to put forward either Rs 500 or Rs 2000 note to the cab driver, the practical situation becomes more problematic, thanks to the unavailability of lower denomination notes post demonetisation. Or, rather, let me also share the fact that, with all the medical issues and giving our lower middle class status, I didn’t even have adequate balance at my account at that point of time. Or to be prcise, why would I go for withdrawing extra cash, when my digital wallet has adequate money. So, I was banging my head because I believed in some digital wallet for payment, rather than the old good system of cash.

And to my astonishment, the customer care service of Paytm, refers to some blogpost as a resolution of my complaint to their twitter handles. But, their resolutions did not upgrade my account balance after 5 hours. So, at this moment, if I should rush for some urgency again, I have no options left! Their casual attitude towards solving the issue has reflected the technical problems with these wallets. And, as of now, I have not received any answer from Uber also.

Now, you may say, go for some more trusted wallets like SBI buddy or go for internet banking. Yes, I did that! I have installed SBI buddy in my mobile only to find that I can’t link my Uber account with it. At my location, I can, at the most book movie ticket or railway ticket with the same. Also, my internet banking user ID and password has not been activated even after a period of three months and I am fed up pursuing the same with my home branch! The banking persons doesn’t have any clue on how to handle that!

So, who will compensate the trouble and stress that I am going through at this point of time? Who will compensate my office hours that I have devoted to write complaints, tweet about my experiences without any fruitful result? Uber, paytm or the proponents of the digital and cashless economy? I am sure that no one will answer my question and no one will bother even, because after all it’s all about the big and bold words, loud promises and many more, which are superficial and vacuum at the end of the day for lower middle-class people like me. But for me, the question will loom till I get a satisfactory answer – who am I benefiting with, myself or the corporate owners, while I keep waiting for my problem to resolve in real sense?


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