How to Bridge the gap between Bharat and India for accelerating cashless economy?

“India” and “Bharat” may be the same geographical entity, but they are two different notional ones. “India” is that entity which is at the cusp of a digital revolution while “Bharat” is largely rural, traditional and remote, away from the upswing of technology and world-class urban standards. The biggest challenge for India’s governmental institutions is to bridge the gap between these two worlds and take all 125 crore citizens forward to better socio-economic scenarios.


The Cashless Economy Idea

India has been taking strides towards becoming a cashless economy. The demonetization of high currency bills meant a giant surge in online payments, digital transactions and credit and debit card usage. Digital wallets like Paytm showed a growth of more than 200% in the months following the move. Thanks to India’s vast number of Smartphone users, digital payments are now becoming much more common even in rural and semi-rural areas.

The NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) is devoted to push India’s population to shift monetary transactions online. Two of the biggest schemes introduced to facilitate this move are UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money). UPI powers several bank accounts within a single application, aimed at making inter-bank transfers easier. BHIM is one such application initiative working with UPI applications, which allows fast and easy bank transfers through a secure network. These endeavors seek to bring the rural population onto digital payment platforms using their Smartphones.


The Challenges

One of the major barriers to India’s digital revolution is linguistics. Different regions of the country have different local languages. Barring the metropolis cities, English is not spoken by the majority in most places. Educated men and women in inner states are not comfortable with the English language, leading to the problem of personalization of services. Small business owners, local startups and small-town professionals stand to benefit the most from digital payment systems – but a large chunk of them opt out because they cannot follow English instructions. Revenues of vernacular language newspapers constitute nearly 70% of the market, showing just how prevalent regional languages are.

Another issue slowing down the online train is security threats. A Business Today report found a whopping 88 percent Indians are concerned about the security of online transactions and over 25% refrain from using digital platforms for fear of fraud. New internet users are hesitant about putting their data online because of the possibility of malicious attacks. For the cashless economy model to succeed, India has to beef up its security systems and ensure user data is not compromised. An important step in bringing “India” and “Bharat” closer is the assurance that any person’s money remains in their own control only.


The Way Forward

The dream of digital India is powered by technological advancements that not only put India on the world map, but also cater to every area in the country. Large-scale efforts need to be made with more local outreach for the movement to have the desired effect. Initiatives have to be taken to implement digital transactions in rural areas and remote regions. Web literacy is the need of the hour. Indian internet users need to know how money transfer can be done online, how such transactions can be made securely, what the benefits of such a practice are, and how digital payment will make their lives easier.

We have options like PayTM and Mobikwik to pay taxi fares, and buy stuff from local shops. Thanks to such wallets, Cab drivers, maids and even grocery shop owners have embraced the digital way of life and are keeping track of their payments. With zero balance systems and high rates of interests, Payment Banks PayTM, Airtel and India Post, have made life easier for many Indian citizens. Visa and MasterCard joining hands for BharatQR, only in India, is a new milestone achieved in the history of cashless economy in India. Thus, the QR codes eliminates the need of card swipes, or reading instructions to make payment for that matter. Just a scan with the merchant’s code and you are done with the payment. So, we expect more people who complained about being unable to pay through apps, for the language barrier or being unable to follow instructions at all, have a solution here.

Brands and marketers are creating content in different vernacular languages to target specific regions of the country. With the number of vernacular internet users on the rise, more and more vernacular apps are gaining popularity, and other companies are enabling language options on their primarily English apps. This is indicative of a desire to capture the huge Indian internet user market, and has worked wonders for the digital payments industry thus far.


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