Understanding the movement of cash of the privately led enterprises in Dharavi and scope for electronic or mobile payments

Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum located in Mumbai, India, is home to a large number of thriving small-scale industries producing goods worth USD 600-650 million a year. Given the high volume of unrecorded transactions in such enterprises, digitization of transactions is essential to achieve inclusive financial growth in India as envisioned by the Reserve Bank of India. Despite introducing different modes for digitization of transactions, such as mobile phones, ATMs, shop-based terminals, agents, POS terminals – cash still remains the predominant mode of transaction among Dharavi’s enterprises.

Therefore, before rolling out future innovations for digitization of transactions, it is crucial to recognize systems best suited for client needs by – understanding targeted users’ perception about electronic transaction as a complementary tool in terms of speed convenience, and reliability; what the level of acceptability and trust is amongst users; and if regulatory innovations and existing infrastructure for electronic transactions support the needs of the clients. Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the efficacy of marketing methods used to influence the take-up of various services for e-transactions.

The study attempts to use an ethnographic and experimental approach to find answers to these concerns by understanding the movement of cash transactions, for select three types (small, medium and large) of industries in Dharavi. Through the study, behaviors influencing business financial transactions will be observed, penetration of financial mainstream in the study area will be mapped, different stakeholders will be interviewed to understand their knowledge and perception of electronic transaction; and respondents will be helped to open mobile money bank accounts to understand their willingness to take-up e-payment systems. The study aims to determine the social, cultural and commercial factors that influence the decision of using cash versus electronic transaction systems and understand the scope of mobile or electronic payments.

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