Photo credit: The Hindu Business Line
By Shilpa Kumar
Covid highlighted two contradictory and critical facts about digital payments and cash for meeting the needs of India’s vulnerable population. On the one hand, because we had a working digital payments backbone and had activated Jan Dhan accounts across the country, it meant that delivering Direct Benefit Transfers to BPL families’ banking accounts was easy, swift and leakage free. On the other hand, it also put a spotlight on the fact that there were significant last mile challenges in ensuring that the money deposited could actually reach intended beneficiaries and the fact that they needed “cash in hand” to be able to meet their subsistence and emergency needs.
A survey of around 50,000 BPL households revealed that close to 72 per cent would have either lost their jobs or seen their wages decrease. Governmental assistance was critical and close to 85 per cent of such vulnerable households received one of four governmental cash welfare schemes.
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