While the co-operative banks across the country face an uncertain future following Reserve Bank of India’s restriction on cash transactions, a primary co-operative bank in rural Kerala has found a digital solution to tide over the financial crisis and challenge the hegemony of high-spending e-commerce websites.
Thenhipalam Co-operative Rural Bank Limited in Malappuram district became the first co-operative bank in India to launch digital currency, named COOPaisa, on Friday.
Since Friday, bank customers in Thenhipalam, Chelembra, Pallikkal, Peruvallur, Munniyur and Vallikkunnu panchayats have been using COOPaisa to buy groceries, fish and vegetable from more than 100 stores as well as to pay for autorickshaw rides
What makes COOPaisa different from other digital currencies is that it doesn’t differentiate between those who have smartphones and non-smartphones.
Smartphone users can complete transactions by scanning the bar code displayed at the shops, while non-smartphone users have to rely on the One Time Password received on their phones.
Pradeep Menon, president of the the bank, said COOPaisa was launched to ease difficulties of the bank customers in six panchayats. “We have been receiving positive feedback from the customers, vendors and autorickshaw drivers during the last three days. It shows that our efforts have paid dividends,” he said.
“Our customers felt the pinch of demonetisation. COOPaisa made them happy. Now they can make purchase for Re 1 and up to Rs 10,000 each day. Vendors have registered increase in sales, while autorickshaw drivers are getting more trips,” Menon added.
Rajesh, a carpenter, was excited to use COOPaisa on Friday itself at the SR Bakery in Kohinoor Village in Thenhipalam Panchayat. “I wanted to buy some snacks for a family function. I went to the bank to withdraw money. But they said their coffers were empty. Then the officials suggested I should instal COOPaisa on my android phone. I used it at the SR Bakery and a nearby fish stall. I don’t have to worry about currency crunch anymore,” he said.
Shameer, owner of SR Bakery, said the digital currency has provided merchants a lifeline. “Business was dull for the last three weeks. It is slowly picking up after the launch of COOPaisa. I have done more than 25 transactions in the last three days.”
Fish vendor Moosa said COOPaisa brought many of his customers back. “Many of my regular customers stopped buying fish after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 went out of the market. Now they are coming back. It is a little difficult to operate the system. But I am happy to use it if it is good for my customers.”
Thenhipalam Co-operative Rural Bank paid Rs 3.5 lakh for the application developed by Sesame Technologies in Kozhikode.
Dec 04 2016