Digital transactions increasing, but at sluggish pace

BHOPAL: A year after demonetization, amidst the decline in sales, the use of swipe machines has gone up, albeit at much slower pace. Many traders have even returned the Point of sale (POS ) or swipe machines pointing to the “hidden charges of banks” which accrue from using these machines. From the “hidden charges” to the erratic internet connectivity, traders cite various reasons for their returning swipe machines.
A number of traders also claimed that, given a chance, people would still prefer paying in cash or by a cheque. A shopkeeper in New Market Manohar Rajani cited “many problems including high tax rates on every swipe” for his returning of the POS machine. “I wanted to continue, but after the internet problems and “non -cooperation from banks, I decided to return it,” he added.
Ajay Singh, who runs a tyre shop, has a pointed grouse. “I have returned the POS because the banks don’t believe in transparency. There are hidden charges and when you ask questions they would never explain,” he said. However, sources in the State bank of India which has a major share in the POS market claimed that a little more than 2 per cent machines were returned. This was attributed to the availability of enough cash in the market. When approached by the TOI, the SBI officials in Bhopal refused to respond.
However, chief manager of Bank of Baroda Amber Joshi said, “Earlier almost every trader wanted to have a POS installed at his shop, but now only those who actually want to use them are approaching. More and more people are using them.” President of Bhopal Chambers and commerce Lalit Jain said, “There is a fear of unknown among the people when they use the POS. Many consumers think twice before using a swipe machine, I don’t know why. Its use has not picked up the way we expected it to go up.” Jain said that his claim was bolstered by the findings of a survey of State bank of India that were out two months ago. The survey concluded that the transactions through the POS were increasing, but with a slower pace.
The use of swipe machines varies from one business to another, he added. Digital payment mode is usually opted for by patrons in hotels. However, Sanjay Agrawal, owner of a hotel in the state capital, said the hotel business itself has seen a “drastic decline.” He added, “More than 60 % people pay using POS.” A medical shop owner seeking anonymity said, “On average, there is just 5 % use which goes up to 10 % at month-end.”