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Has demonetisation fostered a ‘shift to digital’ for the banked poor?

Preethi Rao, Suraj Nair, and Shruti Korada write on the impact of demonetisation on the banked poor.

Two years ago, the government of India made a significant move by withdrawing from circulation India’s most frequently used bank notes. The ultimate aim of this move was to create a corruption-free and cashless society. Early evidence indicates that digital payments skyrocketed after the Rs. 500 (about $8) and Rs. 1,000 ($16) notes were withdrawn from the economy (incidentally, these notes represented 86 percent of the value of currency in circulation at that point). Before demonetisation (between April and October 2016), the volume of retail electronic payments was growing at an average rate of 37 percent per month. When demonetisation took effect in November, that figure increased substantially to almost 70 percent and reached 123 percent in December. This led to the impression that digital payments were on the rise and that most people -  even fruit and vegetable vendors operating ou…
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