Life after demonetisation: “Darling, the delivery boy has brought the cabbage, tomatoes… and your ATM”

The rupee is headed downhill.
The rupee is headed downhill.
Image: EPA/Farooq Khan
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A grocery delivery startup and a private bank in India have come together to tackle the cash squeeze in the country.

Along with other orders, Gurugram-based Grofers, through a tie-up with India’s fifth-largest private lender Yes Bank, will now deliver even currency notes to its customers.

“Grofers delivery executives will carry PoS machines (powered by Yes Bank) where customers can swipe and get cash within the comfort of their homes,” Ashneer Grover, CFO of Grofers, said in a statement (pdf). Customers have to order groceries worth Rs2,000 to use this service, and can withdraw up to Rs2,000. As of now, the service will be offered in Mumbai, Gurugram, and Bengaluru.

Asia’s third-largest economy has been facing a severe cash crunch since the Narendra Modi government announced its decision to demonetise Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes on Nov. 08. These high-value currencies accounted for about 86% of the cash in circulation by value.

Over the last five weeks, millions of Indians have been queuing up outside banks and ATMs—the lines sometimes extending beyond two kilometers—to withdraw money. Some 70 people have reportedly died due to reasons directly or indirectly related to demonetisation.

Grofers, however, isn’t the only company to step in and work the situation in its favour. For instance, India’s largest retailer, Future Group, has allowed cash withdrawals of up to Rs2,000 across its stores on swiping debit cards at its cash counters. Similarly, multiplex chain Inox, has allowed withdrawal of Rs2,000 at its counters.

“This is good move by retailers to drive footfalls and fuel incremental sales,” Arvind Singhal, chairman of retail consultancy Technopak, told The Economic Times. “Consumers, who may not have been in the mood to shop, may walk into a store to withdraw cash and end up buying something.”