Whatever your reasons for not accepting the digital platform may have been, the Government (with blessings from the Reserve Bank of India) has taken a bold step to push its citizens to stop relying solely on cash. For petty reasons like paying for local grocery and local transportation in autos/cabs, cash till a limit is still good. But, certainly not for bigger expenses.
Just like most people, even I was skeptical about using the internet to pay for things. But once you overcome the fear of ‘What If..’ and just do it once, you can see how easy and convenient it can be. And even though you can pay for pretty much everything with digital wallets (at least in urban India) and credit cards in India, it certainly isn’t any excuse to get careless whilst doing so.
The fear of using online payments, once overcome, is liberating.
So here’s a guide about forgetting cash and adopting the digital system of payments.
1. Register Your Bank Account for Online Payments
Certain banks in India still require you to fill out a certain form and register for online banking facilities. If you’re affiliated to one such bank, then there’s no way around it. You’ll HAVE to go there in person and sign a form. If you’re account is in a bank where a mere phone call to their customer care does the trick, then that’s what you do. Calling them should be your first step, regardless.
Once done, you will receive your Customer ID (possibly a unique number different from your Account Number) and a temporary password. You need to then search and find out the ‘netbanking’ URL of your bank. For example, if your account is with HDFC, simply search for ‘netbanking HDFC’ and the first URL should be the one you click on. Here, you’ll be prompted to enter your login details, like a Customer ID and password.
The first time you login with this password, the bank’s system will ask you set up a new password, which you will need to remember. Do NOT share this password with anyone and certainly don’t note it down in a place where it can be misplaced easily. You can also think about using a Password Manager for this.
Every time you carry out a transaction online, you can now choose ‘Netbanking’ as one of the options to pay for it. Just gotta remember your Customer ID and password.
2. Digital Wallets
Now, here’s where it gets a little trickier. In the past year or two, you must’ve heard of brands like Paytm and FreeCharge. These companies have positioned themselves as ‘Digital Wallets’ where you can add your bank account or credit card to pay for services and/or goods.
But can’t you do the same thing with online banking, you ask? Yes, you can. But imagine a scenario like paying for your phone bill. You have to search for the link, then login to your netbanking account and then finally input your id/pwd combo to pay. The same process will repeat for your landline bill, your DTH and any other payments. With Digital Wallets, all of these transactions can be done in a single place.
You can even ‘save’ your netbanking or Credit Card/Debit Card details on these wallets. So the only thing you need to enter at the end are your registered passwords or CVV numbers. If you’ve opted for OTP (One Time Passwords) for each transaction, then always keep your phone ready with you while carrying out any transaction.
Digital Wallets are convinient, secure and better alternatives to cash.
Each digital wallet has its own pros and cons, moreover, since they are still new players in the business, their UI tends to change quite often. If you hate dealing with change, it’s best for you to stick with netbanking, which doesn’t see quite as many changes.
Recently, the Government of India along with RBI announced something known as UPI. It stands for Unified Payment Interface and works similar to a digital wallet. But, unlike privately held companies working on their own technology, UPI is a Government backed initiative which is supported directly by banks too.
Hence, if you do a simple search of ‘UPI’ on Google’s Play Store or the App Store on an iPhone, you see plenty of apps from various banks. You can download and install the app of your bank (if available) and start using the service from there. To know more about UPI, you can read my previous article which has more details about it.
3. Buying Groceries & Supplies
Yes, I did give the example of paying your local grocery guy with cash early on, but you can order groceries and monthly supplies online. All you need to do is use a service like Big Basket, LocalBanya or similar and then use your netbanking account of the digital wallet service you signed up for.
It’s best to first check reviews of the service these startups provide, but since you can always send back stuff that you’re not happy with, it’s safe to try at least once. Almost all of these services will refund your money within 48-72 hours and their delivery times are also similar.
If you immediately want to buy something, then these services might not be a good option. But the good news is that local grocery and supplies outlets have also started accepting payments through certain digital wallets. Check with your local outlet and find out if that’s possible. Sending money to anyone using digital wallets is pretty easy and once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably not want to use cash again.
Okay, this should not even be explained in greater detail, but cab hailing services like Uber and Ola have been in India for more than 2 years now. You can use their app to book a cab and take you to places within your city and in some cases, outside of it too.
Here too, you have the convenience of using a digital wallet to complete your payment. But, the wallet has to be ‘linked’ to the Uber/Ola or whichever service’s app you end up using. Uber also has other methods of booking its cabs, but these aren’t available in India at the time of writing.
For airline travel, train travel and bus travel – there are various websites and services that help you book tickets. You can also use your digital wallets for this purpose and if you’re lucky, enjoy some additional discounts while using it too.
5. Everything Else
When was the last time you used your debit card to pay for something? If the answer is never, then please start now. It’s a secure system and now that you have to enter your PIN while making payments, it’s hard to lose your hard-earned money in any way.
With more and more outlets accepting digital wallets too, it’ll only make sense to adopt this move with open arms, than try and fight. Yes, you still have to be careful while finalizing your payment, but since you can pay for just about anything using digital wallets, why wait?
In the past year alone, I’ve paid for movie tickets, outstation bus tickets, airfare, hotel bookings, Uber rides, railway tickets, groceries, medicines, phone bills, gas bills and more, using nothing but a digital wallet.
The only mishap was while booking the outstation bus, I forgot to cross-check the date and booked a bus incorrectly. But that’s a human error, it could happen to anyone and thankfully the money was refunded in 72 hours anyway. And if you live in an area where digital wallets are still unavailable, then we can only ask for your patience.
If you’d had any major problems with cashless transactions then do let us know in the comments section. Otherwise, it’s a good time as any to convert your cash into digital money and use newer platforms to make payments.