Shiv Singh like many other vendors in Delhi’s Azadpur Vegetable Market, has seen his business crumble down in the past week. The tomato seller is packing up his stall for the day. It’s only 11 in the morning. “Business has been terrible for the past few days. Without cash in the market we are struggling to attract customers,” he says. His stall is just a small point of sale counter in the sprawling Azadpur Mandi, one which locals say never sleep.
After the controversial decision made by PM Narendra Modi to demonetize higher currency notes, Asia’s biggest vegetable wholesale market is still to make peace with it. When asked by customer to accept other form of payments, the shopkeepers have the same answer, questioning where they can create this facility from in the middle of a market.
Since, the Prime Minister had pushed for businesses to accept cashless transactions using various fintech solutions, so when we visited trading hubs and small-time business of the Capital and tried to find out why are they so averse for embracing this technology.
Lack of Awareness
In East Delhi’s Gandhinagar area, there’s nothing that gives a visitor sense of being in Asia’s second biggest wholesale textile and garment market.
Most of the shops in this area are closed, and the one which are open are endlessly looking for a customer to enter their shop. But being the biggest textile market is not the only distinction of this massive sprawl, it is also known for its “cash-only” transactions.
“Most of businessman here are not well-educated and tech savvy to handle electronic payments. They are skeptical about it. Majority of the transactions take place in cash, followed by cheques and demand drafts,” says Harjeet Singh Kochhar, who owns Montoo Dresses in Ashok Gali, Gandhinagar.
Kochhar, who is the president of Organization of Traders and Industrialists in Gandhinagar, says that there are around 20,000 shops selling different kinds of textile and garments in the market. But few offer other method of payments except cash.
Lack of Proper Documents
When Kochhar was asked that if the “cash-only” transactions were used by shopkeepers to evade tax? Kochhar explained that even though there are certain shops who are running their business without proper registration and licenses. He also added that this might be the reason why sales tax officials were seen in the market during the last week. And reiterated that all the transactions are transparent and in the knowledge of authorities.
Laborers Only Accept Cash
For most shop owner the use of cash is prevalent, especially in the West Delhi’s Mayapuri Scrap Market, where the dictate has meant no business for most market owners.
According to a metal scrap dealer, the scrap industry involves a lot of labors and they expect to be paid in cash. If you accept cashless transactions through credit/ debit cards then you won’t be able to pay wages to the laborers. Even if we accept payments in forms other than cash, how can they pay when others are not ready to accept? The only form of payments which are accepted are cash and cheque.
He also said that since there is a limit on the withdrawal, there is not business. He says, since his business has very small shops and most of the work involves physical tough with scrap and metal. They don’t have any knowledge about debit/credit card payments, and how the government expects us to do that in such a short period of time?
The question of taxes
A lot of businesses are small-time establishment which manage to keep the cost of their services low because they manage to do away with extra taxes. “If we introduce card payment, additional taxes will have to be paid which will increase the price of the product. Plus, a 2 percent VAT will also be charged. But ccustomers won’t understand all this and they will become unhappy” says Ajay Kukreja, a trader from Khari Baoli, Asia’s biggest wholesale market for dry fruits and spices.