Sweden is often (and incorrectly) proclaimed as the first cashless society. Yet it is still moving towards a state where cash is decreasingly relevant, with just 20% of retail payments occurring in cash format.
Yet in India, cash is king, with an estimated 98% of retail payments occurring in cash format.
Going without cash for 50 days in India provides a number of lessons on the trajectory of the country's move away from cash, including:
1) Transport will be a leader in the move to cashlessness, followed by services.
2) Local languages will be critical for cashlessness in diverse societies, as whilst cash may be a universal language, digital interfaces are not.
3) Education on cashless solutions are critical.
4) Startups will force banks' hands on digital wallets.
5) Local merchants will be hard to crack. Street vendors will be impossible.
All this and the fundamental question “As a believer in digitization of cash, am I just propagating the theory or do I really understand the consumer side of story?” With this started the quest to understand “Cashlessness” first hand. In this process many a times the challenges looked insurmountable – but then what is the point of a journey if it doesn’t challenge you.