Modi’s ‘Masterstroke’ Cash Ban to Boost India Digital Push
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Cash may no longer be king in India. The nation’s nascent digital economy stands to be the biggest beneficiary of its strongest crackdown on corruption since 1978.
In a surprise announcement late Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned 500-rupee ($7.50) and 1,000-rupee notes effective midnight, sweeping away 86 percent of total currency in circulation. Paytm, India’s largest digital wallet startup, hailed the move in the morning newspapers as it splashed Modi’s photograph in a full-page advertisement.
“This is the golden age to be a tech entrepreneur in India. Specially a fintech one,” tweeted Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of Paytm, whose investors include Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. “Keep the money digital.”
In a nation where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash and about a quarter of the $2 trillion economy is unaccounted for, Modi’s pushing for electronic transactions to improve transparency. The latest move is estimated to more than double annual growth at payment companies.