On November 27, during an election rally in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all Indians get familiar and make others familiar with cashless transactions.
The same day, during his radio programme Mann Ki Baat, he said: "Learn how this digital economy works. Learn the different ways you can use your bank accounts and internet banking. Learn how to effectively use the apps of various banks on your phones. Learn how to run your business without cash. Learn about card payments and other electronic modes of payment. Look at the malls and see how they function. A cashless economy is secure, it is clean. You have a leadership role to play in taking India towards an increasingly digital economy."
Modi and his cabinet ministers have now launched a major social-media effort to promote cashless transactions, which include e-banking (or banking over computers or mobile phones), debit and credit cards, card-swipe or point-of-sales (PoS) machines and digital wallets.
Given this, there are five hurdles to Modi's ambition of converting India to a cashless economy:
1. 342 million internet users, 27 per cent of Indians:
The global median is 67 per cent, IndiaSpend reported in March. India lags most major economies and performs worse than Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Indonesia, among other countries, the data reveal.
3. 1.02 billion mobile subscriptions, but only 15 per cent have broadband internet:
(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Devanik Saha is with the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend)