Demonetisation: Network Outages Mar Digital Payments Push

by December 12, 2016 0 comments

While this whole talk about making digital payments sounds very hunky dory, the ground reality for people making the digital transition is anything but satisfactory. With unending queues before banks and ATMs to get some much sought after cash, digital payments do offer the much needed relief. This realisation has also dawned up on those merchants who have never used a PoS terminal at their shops. However, the sheer volumes in India for everything, be it the number of vehicles on roads, people lining up in front of banks and now the increasing traffic on digital payments platforms, ensure that nothing works perfectly. The latest case in point being digital payments platforms.

Rahul (name changed) was out in the market to purchase some woollens for his family. Supremely confident as he was due to the plastic card securely tucked into his wallet. And of course, negligible cash kept alongside. The shopping was a brisk experience with drastically reduced footfalls across all major marketplaces.

Shopkeepers forced to go digital on poor telecom networks

Shopkeepers report reduction in business as high as 70% due to demonetisation. Anyways, the only difficult part for Rahul proved to be the PoS terminal. One swipe and there was no response for minutes together. Finally, transaction failed said the machine. Another try and this time the machine stayed silent but to his horror Rahul got the message from his bank confirming his payment. The frantic query to the merchant resulted in an assurance that the message was not sacrosanct as no transaction slip had been generated. So, they got again to the business of card swiping.

The process repeated for atleast 10 times before the payment got through. The merchant blamed the erratic service on the higher volumes of transactions recorded on holidays. But this argument does not hold currency and such a pathetic experience only dissuades the suspecting people from adopting digital payments platforms. Queries to banks on this go in vain as they conveniently pass on the buck to the already stressed telecom service providers.

We all have experienced/are too familiar with call drops and network  connectivity issues. So how do we expect to manage the huge volume of digital payments that beckons us post demonetisation? I now stand convinced this whole demonetisation exercise has been pushed through in a hurry without a deep introspection on the quality of existing IT/telecom infrastructure expected to take on this new load. Oh! BTW this was just one such instance of digital disruption. There are many such sorry tales waiting to be published, but are the concerned people even listening?

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