Despite electronic payments through debit cards and internet banking, residents find themselves in a fix when they have to pay small-time vendors such as the local milkman and their domestic help. The trouble is that they often do not have bank accounts to receive payments via online transactions or cheques.
Shah Haroon, a resident of Noida, said, “E-payments are effective only when I am buying grocery or cosmetic items at malls or retail stores in the city. How do I pay the milkman, the car cleaner or the washerman?”
Thanks to the shortage of low-denomination notes, he says, it’s difficult to pay for these services. "In November they agreed to take their fee later, but what do I do this month? It’s even more difficult this month as low-denomination notes [Rs 500] have already entered the market. The problem is they are in pitifully short supply.”
Another resident pointed out the problems he faced when card swipe machines malfunctioned. Sanjay Maheshwar said, “I’ve taken to e-payments after service charges was waived. But there are times when card-swipe machines fail to work — they either refuse to read the card or have a network issue. I made a purchase of Rs 3,800 recently, but when the swipe machine flashed an error message, I had no option but to pay in cash. I had only Rs 4,000 with me and now will have to stand in queue again for hours to withdraw money.”
He, too, was facing problems making payments to the washerman, the milkman and the domestic help, as they did not have bank accounts. “They are not accepting 2,000-rupee notes, as their charges are far less and they don’t have change,” he said.
When City Spidey spoke to Santosh Kanaujiya, a washerman in Sector 21 who also cleaned cars, he said he hadn’t received payments from a single car owner in November. “They offer me the 2,000-rupee note but my charges are between Rs 500 and Rs 700 a month. Accepting cheques comes with its own set of problems. I’ll end up wasting a lot of time depositing the cheque at the bank one day and then withdrawing the money on another. I could use that time working,” he said.
Shailendra Baranwal, a resident of Supertech Capetown in Sector 74, who is a tutor by profession and has three flats that he has given on rent, said his students were offering to pay through cheque or via online transfers but he has refused. “If I agree to accept cheque or online payments, I'll spend half my time standing in bank and ATM queues. When will I teach so many students?”