What demonetisation set out to do, the coronavirus pandemic managed to achieve. The pandemic pushed way more people to adopt the digital economy than demonetisation. It also markedly reduced the use of black money in the economy, said a survey.
A survey by social media platform LocalCircles said that the number of people who prefer cash transactions has halved from 2019 to 2020. The lockdown made people move toward online transactions for necessities such as food and medicine as well as clothes.
The LocalCircles survey stated, "Although demonetisation brought digital payments into mainstream in the country, the GST rolled out 8 months later enabled it further, but it has really been the COVID-19 pandemic that has accelerated it. With people becoming fearful of contracting the virus through cash or ATMs, many more started making their payments digitally, even when buying basic essentials during the countrywide lockdown."
The survey received 45,000 responses from more than 300 districts of India, it said.
Indians use cash mostly to buy groceries or to pay domestic help, the survey found. These are mostly low-value transactions and people do not ask for receipts or salary slips.
Talking about black money, 33 per cent of respondents believe that mandatorily linking property ownerships with Aadhaar could reduce black money in India. Of the 15,492 voters, 38 per cent believe that "mandatory disclosure of all assets of all ministries and government employees and their direct families" would help while 10 per cent believe demonetising Rs 2,000 note immediately is a good option.
"Citizens on the platform have pointed to various areas where people transact in cash to evade taxes paid to the government, via commission agents, middlemen, or brokers. People have also highlighted that even for many MSMEs, real-estate sales and purchase, sale and purchase of agricultural land, transactions continue to take place without an invoice as a norm, with wanting invoice being more of a rare exception," it said.
There has also been a reduction from 27 per cent of respondents saying they made "50-100 per cent" of monthly purchases without receipt to 14 per cent in 2020. "This shows that there has been a 50% reduction in the number of citizens who do the majority of their monthly purchases without receipt in 2020," it said.
The survey also credited digital payments that immediately issue digital receipts to consumers.