Can We Bank on Cashless Dreams or Paytm-Like Enablers?

Prayank

While the company was busy updating its services for the merchants, Paytm servers faced a massive outage as its customers were unable to use the mobile wallet service on Tuesday, and also faced issues at times before yesterday.

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Users were unable to pay for their groceries, cab or food on Tuesday evening due to a major technical glitch which Paytm believes was caused due to server overload following massive traffic.

Yesterday wasn’t the first time that Paytm services faced an issue, with customers complaining about server issues for several days now.

The country is slowly and steadily making its way towards the cashless dream as an increased number of people are now transacting online — not like they’ve a choice — but to enable them to stay on this path requires strong dedication both from the government’s side as well as such services which facilitate cashless transactions.

Paytm currently has over 170 million subscribers countrywide, who are highly reliant on the service during the cash crunch faced by almost all nationals alike.

The service has been adding hundreds of thousands of subscribers every day on its service since the PM Modi-led government announced demonetisation, striking down the old Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes

According to company data, in the first few days following the demonetisation move, Paytm saw an increase in the number of app downloads by 200%, the number of transactions on the app by 250%, the number of new card registrations on the platform by 30%.

Additionally, there has been a 1000% surge in the amount of money added to user accounts on Paytm and a 400% increase in offline transaction value.

Like Government, Like Corporates

Now since the company seems well aware of its expanding customer size and boasts of adding a lot of man power to handle its clientele, it should be well aware of the servers needed to facilitate the increasing transactions.

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The company right now seems quite like our government who’re still trying to implement the cashless dream but are far from prepared to do that. The government wasn’t even prepared for the aftermath of demonetisation as there is an evident cash crunch.

For a cashless economy to function, India needs 100% internet penetration, and we’re currently still languishing at close to 30%.

A cashless economy also needs 100% reliability on its wallet/card services, and if Paytm’s outage is an example, we’re in a lot of trouble as none of the machinery — government or corporate — seem to be geared up to make this dream come true.

Paytm has currently pulled down its app for iOS stating that it’s being updated. It’s high time that services like Paytm started gearing up for the upcoming wave of cashless transactions.

The company is currently working on its servers and expanding their capabilities but this should’ve been done well in advance — so much for ‘customers mean the world’ and other such statements.

The lack of hard cash in the economy has led the citizens to turn to other methods of transacting because let’s face it; life has to go on — cash or no cash.

Credit/Debit Cards, Other Wallet Services still Prevail

Many might argue that cashless economy can also be supported via use of net banking or cards for transactions, but since not all retailers, especially small-business owners, are equipped with swipe machines.

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Other mobile wallet companies are also prevalent, and each one has seen a surge in its app usage and in the number of transaction they’re carrying out per day.

But to argue that other mobile wallet service can be used when Paytm is not available isn’t always viable as not everyone has accounts on multiple wallet services.

Not only that, not everyone can afford to fill up multiple wallets and that isn’t logical since you can not transfer money from one mobile wallet to the other.

Paytm is the most widely accepted service among mobile wallets as even small-scale shopkeepers, and street-side vendors have started accepting this mode of payment.

Cards and Mobile Wallets Don’t Work Everywhere

That day is still far when we wouldn’t be carrying any cash in our wallets and still be roaming around carefree because all transactions will be enabled using our cards, mobile wallets or biometrics.

But right now, talking about the present, we’re far from ready for a cashless economy. Pulling plugs on currency and not being able to provide an alternative to it has resulted in a chaotic situation.


Even after six weeks of demonetisation, there are tiring, lengthy queues outside banks and ATMs, which certainly won’t get less tiring even if you stuff the guy’s mouth with sweets.

If you wish for people not to worry about cash, then it’s necessary to create an environment wherein cash isn’t required for one’s daily needs.

The day everyone from our vegetable vendor to the tea stall owner to our milkman has the power of Paytm, and the people they buy good from too, then only can we think of reaching a cashless economy, which currently is the horizon.

If everyone in the economy has the means to go cashless — meaning internet service and devices equipped with wallets which aren’t as complicated to use and link to the bank for transfers both to-and-fro — then and only then can a successful version of the cashless economy dream be realised.

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Prayank

Written By

Prayank

Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.