In November 2016, India announced a complete ban on the 1000 and 500 rupee notes, as part of the government’s efforts to crack down on the counterfeit economy.
Operating on a 95% cash transaction basis, the sudden move to a sudden cashless economy left the majority of Indians in a panic – vendors who mostly dealt in cash, households with savings in cash, were lost.
While on a macro level, these changes were being hailed as positive and transformative, the direct impact on the economy and the citizens of India was too large to be ignored.
The government’s think tank comprising The NITI Aayog (earlier called Planning Commission of India), The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, nationalized and private banks, NASSCOM and NASSCOM Foundation, were tasked to contain this crisis. The team quickly developed an action plan to handhold citizens switch to cashless transactions.
Large scale DigiDhan Melas (translated as Digital Money Fairs) were organized across more than 100 cities with all banks and digital transaction players coming forward and showcasing their cashless solutions.
NASSCOM Foundation, provided volunteers from the IT-BPM industry through its MyKartavya (Meaning: My Duty) program to help the citizens visiting these fairs adopt at least one of the available solutions.
In its attempt to further amplify this initiative, NASSCOM Foundation created its own step-by-step, easy to understand curriculum for all categories of digital transactions including eWallets, Unified Payment gateways (UPI – Mobile app based payment solutions for direct bank account transactions), debit cards, Aadhar (India’s Unique ID equivalent to Social Security Number in USA) enabled payment system and USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) and organized volunteer drives under ‘Each One Teach Ten’ pedagogy across various cities.
The Foundation engaged with more than 2000 volunteers who in turn were able to train over 18,000 people on different cashless modes of transactions.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT also launched a free TV channel called ‘DigiShala’ (The classroom of Digital Learning and cashless financial transactions) and ‘Cashless India’ website to help the citizens get hands-on practice with cashless transaction tools. In partnership with NASSCOM, the Ministry also set up a free helpline service with a toll free number to help people complete their cashless transactions with ease. This helpline was able to resolve more than 300,000 queries from across the country.
Owing to these efforts, by March 2017, the digital transactions had grown 23 times to 6.4 million amounting for INR 24.25 billion. Today, despite cash being the single largest mode of transaction in India, people are much less dependent on it with the most underserved of the citizens having basic knowledge of how to use an e-wallet or a debit card or a UPI app or similar digital transaction tools – a massive win for a country who is not just witnessing but living a digital revolution.