Digital payment providers in India mobilize hundreds of extra workers to enroll small merchants and offer their services for free, betting that a massive cash crunch will prove to be the opportunity of a lifetime. Eve Johnson reports.
India's move to yank 80% of its banknotes out of circulation may be a massive headache for millions... But for digital payment providers - it's could be the opportunity of a lifetime - as merchants AND consumers look for a way around the cash crunch. Companies like PayTM and Mobikwik now hiring thousands of new workers to fan out across the country and sell people on the idea of a mobile wallet. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, DEVIDUTTA TRIPATHY SAYING: "They are going to merchants like this, personally signing them up. "The companies are actually trying to make it very simple, you can just point your smartphone towards this code and at the click of a button you can make a payment. And the merchant also gets the money instantly, so it's very simple actually." Paytm has nearly doubled the number of small merchants signed up to its services to one and a half million in the last few weeks alone. Smaller rival Mobikwik has also seen big success. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MOBIKWIK CO-FOUNDER, UPASANA TAKU SAYING: "People are now willing to adopt digital payments because the government has incentivised them. In many ways, this is the best marketing campaign any mobile wallet company could have ever wanted." But signing people up is the easy part. The question is - are small shopkeepers actually using the service? Many merchants also still prefer cash because it's harder for the tax man to trace. And paper money is still the only option for millions who don't have bank accounts or access to the internet. So even while mobile wallet signs pop up across the country, some experts warn that as soon as the cash crunch eases - it could be back to business as usual.