With the public still facing cash crunch brought on by the government’s demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, several companies are now lending a helping hand. That their own business gets a fillip in the process is another story.
It all started with hypermarket chain Big Bazaar announcing that customers can now withdraw cash up to Rs 2,000 by using debit cards at all its stores from November 24. In a statement, the company said all its stores, along with all fbb ‘fashion hubs’, “will be enabled to allow customers to withdraw up to Rs 2,000 from their own bank accounts, using their debit/ATM cards”. It said the facility is available at 258 Big Bazaar and fbb stores in over 115 cities and towns across the country.
A couple of days later, multiplex chain INOX Leisure announced that it has partnered with State Bank of India to allow customers withdraw cash up to Rs 2,000 by swiping debit cards, beginning November 25. As per the company, “Citizens can simply swipe their debit cards, enter their PIN number and take up to Rs 2,000 in cash per card per day”. All applicable guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India with regard to cash withdrawals would be followed, it added.
The facility is now available across all its properties — 113 multiplexes in 57 cities. “We want to serve the nation at large by assisting the government in achieving their objectives of building a progressive economy. Through this effort, we are attempting to ease any difficulties that are currently being faced by people due to demonetisation,” said Siddharth Jain, director, INOX Leisure.
Noida-based start-up TailMill has gone a step further — to deliver cash to your doorstep. Customers can get valid currency notes up to Rs 1,000 per day per user on purchase of their products online. The offering is simple — you shop on www.tailmill.com as you normally would, and at checkout you see the option to choose the amount in cash you want to get delivered along with your order. You pay for the products and the cash via a valid digital payment method. And voila, the products you ordered, along with the cash amount you chose, is delivered to you. Cash is given out primarily in Rs 100 notes.
There are a few conditions for the offer though, said Pranjal Y Kumar, founder-CEO of TailMill, a cloud-based “auto-replenishment platform that automates the purchase of customers’ regularly consumed products”. “The offer is currently available only in Noida. Also, at least one of the products in your cart should be a product from TWF (a company offering fresh ground-to-order flours), with whom we have partnered and who is sponsoring the logistics of the whole operation. You can even choose their 1-kg variant,” he explained.
Kumar clarified that their intention is not to replace banks or ATMs as the primary source of liquidity for people.
“We just want to facilitate the small day-to-day transactions, paying your laundry man, your newspaper vendor, the rickshaw-puller and other small transactions,” he added.
Similarly, Agnus Capital-backed Pastiwala.com, a Vadodara, Gujarat-based waste-paper collection and recycling start-up has been campaigning to provide cash to people in lieu of their waste paper. Since the recycling business involves cash payments, the move can not only help people with liquidity but also bring huge business volumes, as per Paresh Parekh, co-founder of Pastiwala.
“Since the waste industry is highly unorganised and deals in cash, it certainly hurts many traders who are dealing in cash, who do not have appropriate requirements to carry out their business,” says Parekh, adding: “We are serving in seven cities of Gujarat right now, with about a million unique customers. In the recent past, waste collection queries have seen a significant jump, say from an average of 300 calls, it has touched 1,100 calls per day per centre. However, at times its humanly impossible to serve everyone. ?Since we pay in cash, it helps households to get a little cash every day from us, instead of having to stand in queues at the banks/ATMs.”
Classifieds platform Quikr, on the other hand, has launched a unique initiative, CashNoCash.com, to help users find ‘cash points’ nearest to them. The crowdsourced site, supported by Nasscom, helps users across India find the nearest ATM, bank or post office to get insights on cash availability and waiting time in queues for cash withdrawal. It also offers users a chance to report this information back to the site, thereby contributing to real-time updates at each mapped cash point.
Atul Tewari, COO, Quikr, said, “The sheer volume of transactions has led to long queues at banks and ATMs and CashNoCash helps citizens find the nearest cash point with the shortest waiting time. The site offers a simple technology-based solution that empowers people with information. We have always focused on India-specific innovations across our multiple verticals such as doorstep, jobs and auto to make things easier for our users as they shift to the digital economy.”
As per Quikr, CashNoCash has helped over 11 million users so far, a majority of them from Delhi, Pune, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The platform has mapped data across over 2 lakh ATMs. It has also introduced convenient features like map views, directions to the nearest ATM and status history of cash availability at ATMs. It also has an email alert option which can be set up for a particular ATM or PIN code that sends the user an e-mail as soon as cash is reported as available.