Gujarat's corporate townships en-route to become cashless soon

Essar's Nand Niketan becomes India's first private township to go cashless with fin-tech firm TMW

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All the 2,200 households in Essar Steel's Nand Niketan Township in Hazira have turned cashless, be it for their daily milk, newspaper, groceries, medicines all utility bill payments. In fact, the company claimed that it is the first such private sector township which has turned completely cashless with Mumbai-based financial technology company The Mobile Wallet (TMW).

Promoted by Vinay Kalantri, TMW is betting big on its 'cashless townships' vertical and is in talks with several other major corporates in Gujarat for adoption of their technology. The pilot project in Essar's Hazira township involved the adoption of smartphone-based TMW app and the Mastercard-enabled TMW and RBL Bank co-branded Prepaid Card.

Rishi Kalantri, Head, Cashless Townships, TMW claimed that they are in talks with several other corporates including Essar's Vadinar township (near Jamnagar), Sanghi Cement's Kutch township etc. "We have already reached out to corporates like Welspun (Anjar), Adani (Mundra), ONGC (Surat), Ambuja Cement (Veraval) for converting their respective townships into cashless ones. There are 180 such townships in all in Gujarat, and we plan to reach out to all within a year's time," he said.

As for Essar's Hazira township, Kalantri recalls that the residents were facing a cash crunch since the Centre's demonetisation move on November 8. A decision was taken to convert the township and all the 40 merchants associated with it into cashless form of transaction.

"We can convert any township into a cashless one in just about five working days," Kalantri claimed. By December, the mobile application was launched in Essar's Hazira township, and soon all merchants were on-boarded. Currently, around 25 per cent of the merchants are using PoS machines, while the rest are using QR codes.

"While the TMW app has had more than 12,000 downloads, over 8,000 TMW-RBL Bank Prepaid cards have been issued to a wide range of users in Surat, including Essar employees and their families residing in the Hazira Township, merchants and shop owners operating within its precincts, as well as contract labourers working in various Essar facilities. An average of Rs 2 lakh worth of digital transactions are being executed every day," an Essar statement read here.  

More than 1,000 daily transactions, including mobile recharges, payments made for groceries and daily needs, and settling of restaurant bills, are being recorded daily using the TMW wallet app. All of the 40-odd merchants at the Township accept payments made through the TMW app and Prepaid Card.

Ralph Sunil, vice president, administration and CSR, Essar Steel, said “All Essar employees now get a nominal part of their salary as a credit into their TMW wallets. The Collector’s office in Surat has personally appreciated our efforts in making digital payments a way of life in the Township.”

Dinesh Yadav, a contract worker at the Essar Steel plant in Hazira, said “I am quite thrilled to be issued the TMW-RBL Bank Prepaid Card. Though I don’t have a bank account, I can use the card to make purchases safely. The card activation process takes less than 30 seconds. I can also transfer money to my family in my native village by simply sending an SMS.”