Cash in Circulation at a Decadal High Even When Digital Payments have Soared

  • Payments
  • 14.05.2021 11:30 am

Mr Mandar Agashe, Founder and MD, Sarvatra technologies,” Covid-19 has not just pushed digitisation but it has also significantly influenced the manner in which people transact. Consumer demands and expenditures have shifted to minimum, mostly towards essentials and emergencies. In addition with the lockdown measures and social distancing norms people are not venturing out to banks and ATM as frequently. Therefore the average ticket size of withdrawals at any given time has gone up by almost 20%, as people withdraw in larger quantities and prefer to hoard, pre-empting medical or any other form of emergencies, which ultimately is not consumed as much. The average ticket size of withdrawals which earlier ranged between 2k-3k now has invariably gone up by 20% to 3k-4k across both rural and urban India.

UPI on the other hand is taking care of small ticket transactions with the average ticket size constant at Rs 1k. Globally and now even in India and other developing countries, it’s been observed that while cash continues to dominate, cheque transactions are rapidly being replaced by digital, IMPS in particular. Owing to this behavioural shift, daily average transactions on IMPS has now gone up to 9k which was earlier in the range of around 6k-7k. In rural India however people prefer withdrawing through AePS vis-a-vis ATMs owing to which the average ticket size across ATMs is comparatively smaller. In rural and semi-urban India, while average withdrawals through AePS stands at Rs. 1500, at ATMs it is around 3k.

The second wave of the pandemic has had a significant impact on the handling and management of cash. This has in turn brought about substantial shift in behavioral patterns among the masses which will play out in favour of digital transactions in the long run.”

Mr. Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby,”The demand for cash started to increase in the wake of the heightened uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is under the lock-unlock phase for over a year now. The anxiety of lockdowns has forced people to withdraw money and to keep cash handy - both for medical emergencies and basic needs in these dire times. This surge in cash usage indicates that people have started to accumulate cash in anticipation of more stringent lockdown measures that might be announced to curb the pandemic.

Additionally, as a counter-measure to offer relief and sustenance to the crisis-affected migrant workers and low-income cohorts, the Government has disbursed Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to millions of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) beneficiaries. Aadhaar ATM, which is the backbone for disbursing DBT to citizens, saw a huge surge across all PayNearby retail stores, primarily led by increased adoption in rural, semi-urban and tier-II towns. Our annual figures reported AePS withdrawals worth Rs. 10,000 Crores in Q4 FY 2021 as against Rs. 7,650 Crores vis-à-vis the same quarter last year. So, withdrawal of DBT funds can also be considered a significant reason for high cash in circulation, especially in the rural economy. We are living in unprecedented times, and people do not want to be strapped for cash when they need it the most.

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