Note ban anniversary: OTV’s reality check at Odisha’s first cashless village

Puri: With what is being touted as one of the ‘boldest measures’ in Indian economy, one year has passed since the decision by the Centre to demonetise high value currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. One year on, OTV did a reality check on the effect of demonetisation at Nuagaon village under Satyabadi block in Puri district which was being claimed to be the first village in Odisha to go completely cashless.

Surprisingly, while the decision to implement the note ban was to push people to opt for digital transactions, residents of Nuagaon village who once were very enthusiastic on a cashless economy now seemed to have returned back to the old ways of paper currency payments. Even shopkeepers who used to seek online payments now accept currency more readily. Barring some youths and women SHGs who have access to smartphones and use e-wallets, credit and debit cards, others use cash for day to day activities.

“Banks had promised to roll out many initiatives and facilities for cashless transactions for us but we did not get it,” a youth said.

Even in Bhubaneswar, at Unit 1 market, the busiest in capital city, people and shopkeepers love using paper currency more often than not. Businessmen say that since there is ample amount of notes in the market, people are preferring paper currencies rather than digital money.

At some places, PoS machines are lying defunct while other places which once displayed ads and signboards promoting ‘cashless’ transactions seem like they have outgrown the whole cashless idea.

On the other hand, as per information available with the SBI, the bank witnessed a manifold increase in cashless transactions in Odisha.

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President of SBI Officers Association, Vivekanand Das, said there has been a rise of nearly 60 percent in cashless transactions. “Branches have been witnessing lower footfalls and PoS machines are being used more in places like shops, markets,” he said.

As per information, while last year by October, 6,500 PoS machines were supplied by SBI in Odisha, their numbers have more than tripled to nearly 21,000.

Before demonetisation, while the SBI recorded monthly online transactions worth Rs 120 crore in Odisha, the figure has skyrocketed to Rs 180 crore.