India — An Untapped Market for Change

Before you jump to conclusions based upon a title, know that the type of change India needs is not what you read about during the Obama campaign…or what activists in India are calling for.  I’m talking about the type of change you can hold in the palm of your hand.  Or, in the case of India, the change we can be denied at the store.

We’ve all had it happen. We go into a local store and purchase something, only to find out the cashier doesn’t have the change necessary to complete the transaction. Unfortunately, at this point, we, the consumers, are already painted in a corner. We need this item, and the cashier knows this. Instead of offering an apology, they very often offer us an item of

Missing in Action: India's Change Supply

no interest to us — a typical case might be a piece of chocolate or a small candy – unless you have a serious case of sweet tooth. In other words, they offer us something we don’t need, and likely don’t even want. This has been a nuisance to many, but it can be an opportunity for all.

I would suggest the bright minds of India develop a system, similar to America’s PayPal method, which allows for people to accrue change they would otherwise be denied. It will leave the customer happier, and will save the merchant the burden of worrying about change (or alienating customers) with each transaction. With the proliferation of mobile phones one could think of them as the medium or the new UID card that is being rolled out.

There has been similar talk in the U.S. about dealing with change. For some time, the U.S. penny has actually cost more than one American cent to produce. This largely has to do with the price of copper; but a number of variables are also involved. The suggestion in this scenario was to ask merchants to round up, or down, to the nearest nickel. The idea met resistance, perhaps because America loves Abraham Lincoln too much. But, the impetus for the decision was sound and it attempted to streamline the transaction process for all consumers here.

India, with their brilliant computer programmers and ability to migrate technology can develop this system in a way that is uniquely Indian. One added benefit is that at the end

How about RupeePal?

of every month, or quarter, each consumer might be pleasantly surprised to see how much change has been stored up. It’s what I like to call the “piggy bank effect.” We’ve all had times where we store pennies and nickels up, only to see that, with time (and perhaps in this case, with interest) those coins have become a fair amount of cash.

It’s still an idea; but then again, so was PayPal. And it’s an idea, which would bring a lot of gratitude to the inventor (not to mention revenue) and would bring a lot of relief to the merchants and customers around India looking for loose change.

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