We love digitization. Don’t we? I mean we’ve digitized everything, even reading. I have forgotten how to read a paperback book. I have kindle in all my devices, and I read whenever I please (even in the toilet). So, digitization! This has been the vision and mission of many organization in the past few years. Digital transformation, they call it.
India still has a long way to go before we are utterly digitized. Even the urban sea of people seem ignorant when it comes to using the wireless magic of digital transformation. Many still do not shop online (Yup! Ask around in your neighborhood, you’ll find many). Many still pay with cash. They prefer cash (BOLD! I would say, even after the demonetization!! Very bold). Many still see gold as a very valid investment. Now! This is in the urban block. The rural India is much more non-digitized. I guess, when organizations talks about digital transformation, they do not count the rural crowd in their agenda.
Government has consistently stressed and re-stressed on the importance of having an account, on the importance of saving your money in a bank, and on the importance of digital transfer of money. Fair enough! Digital money is not affected by drastic change in the look and feel of money. But these people have a handicap in the foundation of all of it that should be addressed primarily before even thinking about digitization.
They cannot read and write. It is both their fault and not their fault. It is their fault because they did not strive or push themselves. Not their fault, because, they were not given the basic opportunity of having a good schooling. Now whose fault is this that more than half of the country is lagging or slow in the digitization race? The problem is not just about opening an account, it is about how they will handle the account.
What is a pin number? An elderly lady once asked me when I was trying to explain to her why she should give all her hard-earned money to the bank and be happy with a monthly interest. I told her, “It is the number you enter in the ATM if you want to withdraw money.” She said, “Where can I find ATMs?” I did not have an answer to that. The bank in which she could open an account was 10 kms away. There were no ATMs anywhere in the nearby premises. The government probably decided that no need for that. They require assistance anyway. A card, pin number, and no assistance will only confuse them. So why were they given a debit card? And a pin number?
The primary goal of digital transformation for any government organization should be educating the people who are unaware of the technological developments such as debit cards. Without proper guidance, they will not misuse the bank aids. In an era where data is money, their ignorance is also a primary target for data thieves. Indian banking is entering and exploring data security to ensure secure banking. Let us not leave rural India behind. Because development evenly, all over the country is good; targeted development is like cancer. Let us not head in that direction.