On November 8, I was walking back from grocery shopping in the near-dark when I noticed something weird – people were queued up at every single ATM I passed. My spidey senses alerted – I had just used nearly the last of my cash – I checked my phone. I had three messages from different people warning me that come midnight, all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bills were going to be useless.
Over the next month, living in Bangalore took on an existential quality – endless lines at the ATMs and old notes being turned into paper sculptures, with no quick end in sight.
Beyond tech start-ups
start-ups like Paytm
all but danced on rooftops with the promise of new business. Even start-ups that relied on older methods of exchange like bartering saw a boost. But that’s only a small part of the picture.
One friend lamented that he had to leave work early to stand in line at the ATM because he had to pay his maid. "Why don’t you just Paytm
your maid?" the person next to him asked. "My maid doesn’t have a smartphone," he answered. That’s not unusual. Neither does 83 per cent of India.
Open to attack
Finally, more money flitting around digitally means a greater risk for cybersecurity
breaches. Arguably, this risk comes with the reward of a cashless society, but it’s not a fight easily won. Demonetisation
– crowds of people opening bank accounts, exchanging cash, and signing onto fintech
services – is a hacker’s paradise.
"We invest millions of dollars a year in data security – it’s one of the big risks of digitalisation," cross-border payments start-up Payoneer CEO Scott Galit said. If there’s opportunity, hackers will come.
This is an excerpt from an article published on TechInAsia. You can read the full story here