23 Nov 2016

Surge in non-cash transactions

The big currency reform combined with foreign investor sales continued to be the dominant market influences as investors struggled to come to terms with the withdrawal of the most common notes in circulation. About 22% of the notes affected, with a value of some $44bn have been exchanged and an additional $7bn of new notes have been withdrawn through ATMs. Consumers appear to be hoarding lower denomination notes (Rs50/10) to allow essential purchases in corner stores to be maintained. There has been a decisive surge in non-cash transactions, as online grocery sales have surged. The online COD (cash on delivery) business has slowed but no pattern has emerged yet and it may take two to three months for this to happen. Early reports suggest a slowdown of about 15% in sales at malls and markets and 20-30% at restaurants. The RBI will progressively raise cash withdrawal limits as production of new notes rises to match demand. In an interesting side effect, the central bank reports a surge in liquidity from reverse repo activity as banks park the flood of cash coming over their counters.

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