Over the advance of the millennia that accept transpired aback bill aboriginal came into use, the way Indians use money has undergone abounding transformations. A year of demonetisation has apparent how there has been a advance appear a agenda economy, but the adulation for banknote refuses to fade. From cowrie shells and gold bill to cardboard addendum and the avant-garde agenda methods — the history of payments in India is assorted and intriguing. As the RBI rolls out the Rs 50 and Rs 200 denominations in the Indian bill system, we trace its change from the ancient canicule of recorded history.
Cowrie shells, begin abundantly in the Indian Ocean, were amid the ancient forms of bill acclimated in the world. In India, they were colloquially referred to as kaudi and were acclimated in assertive areas like Odisha alike until the aboriginal 1800s.
The aboriginal accurate instance of bill actuality acclimated as bill in India dates aback to the seventh or sixth aeon BC. These ‘punch-marked’ bill were formed confined of metal (usually argent and copper) that were aboriginal issued in the Mahajanapada kingdoms of the Indian Iron Age, and they lasted until the end of the Imperial Mauryan period.
The Indo-Greek kings again alien new types of bill that would access Indian banknote for abounding centuries to come. The Kushan empire, which existed from the aboriginal to third centuries CE, began minting gold bill which featured fabulous deities. The Gupta empire, from 320-470 CE, produced the better cardinal of gold bill in Indian history, which is why it is generally referred to as the ‘golden period’. Bill connected to booty on assorted forms through the consecutive dynasties in India — from the Rajput and Mughal empires in the North to the Maratha and Vijayanagara kingdoms in the South.
It was Sher Shah Suri who, during his five-year aphorism from 1540-1545, alien to the nation a new bill which is the antecedent of the modern-day Rupee. Afterwards acquisition Humayun and demography over the Mughal Ascendancy in 1540, Suri set up a new borough and aggressive administering that issued a argent bread termed the Rupiya, which remained in apportionment alike during the of the Mughal Aeon as able-bodied as during the Maratha era. The Rupiya remained the ascendant accustomed bill alike during the British Raj, admitting the East India Company’s efforts to acquaint the Sterling Pound in India as aboriginal as the 1600s. But the bill issued in Western India (Bombay and Surat) and South India (Madras) ambit differed from their arctic counterparts in both architecture and metrology.
Ancient origins: Cowrie shells (top) were some of the aboriginal forms of bill acclimated in India, afore actuality replaced by argent and gold coins, such as these ones from the Maurya absolutism (bottom).
The arising of a compatible banknote in India was brought about abandoned in the aboriginal 19th aeon back the English, who were now the ascendant ability in the country, allowable the Banknote Act of 1835. The newly-designed bill saw the acceptable Indian images and syms replaced with the figure of King William IV, which was itself replaced by the account of Queen Victoria from 1840 onwards. However, it was abandoned afterwards the Indian Rebellion of 1857, additionally accustomed as the Sepoy Mutiny, that the British declared the Rupee as the official bill of colonial India.
Coins initially acquired their amount from the adored metal acclimated to excellent them. This airish a botheration for sovereigns who did not acquire the requisite gold or argent to anticipate a desperate abasement of their currency. Cardboard money apparent this botheration as it bore a affiance to pay its possessors the agnate amount of gold or argent from the accessible treasury. Soon, it no best mattered that cardboard money was not backed by annihilation of actual value, and it was artlessly accustomed as a average of barter for appurtenances and services. But while cardboard bill was popularised in Asia by Genghis Khan as aboriginal as the 11th century, it abandoned acquired absorption in India a few centuries later.
In the backward 18th century, argent and gold bill gave way to hundis, bonds, and shares, and cardboard bill was alien in India for the aboriginal time. Both clandestine and semi-government Presidency banks could book addendum — the General Coffer of Bengal and Bihar (1773-75) and The Coffer of Hindostan (1770-1832) were amid the ancient issuers of cardboard bill in India. In 1861, the Government of India allowable the Cardboard Bill Act which accustomed it a cartel over the affair of addendum and concluded the arising of addendum by clandestine and Presidency Banks. Subsequently, the ‘Victoria Account Series’ of addendum — in denominations of Rs. 10, 20, 50, 100, and 1,000 — entered circulation.
The Indian Ability Movement anon began acquisition steam, and its nationalist and bread-and-er action arm, the Swadeshi Movement, fabricated a big appulse on Indian banking. Inspired by the bulletin of animating calm processes and products, businessmen and politicians founded several bounded banks — Canara Bank, Coffer of India, Corporation Bank, Indian Bank, and Coffer of Baroda, to name a few — for the Indian association from 1906 to 1911.
Soon after, the British Ascendancy faced an astute curtailment of argent due to the beginning of Apple War I in 1914 and appropriately began arising cardboard bill of abate denominations (one and two Rupees) ahead issued abandoned as coins. Meanwhile, India got its aboriginal columnist press in Nashik in 1928 which anon began columnist bill for the absolute country.
The rupee underwent several iterations beneath British rule, including this ten rupee agenda from the 1920s (top) and this one rupee bread from 1918 (bottom).
The Aboriginal Apple War larboard the Indian abridgement in acute straits, and the charge for an acme budgetary ascendancy was identified. The Central Legislative Assembly, acting on the guidelines recommended by the 1926 Royal Commission of Indian Bill and Finance, set up the Reserve Coffer of India to abstracted the ascendancy of bill and acclaim from the government and to adapt cyberbanking and agenda arising throughout the country.
The RBI was formally inaugurated on April 1, 1935, with its Central Office at Calcutta (now Kolkata) which was relocated to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1937. A year later, the acme coffer issued its aboriginal alternation of addendum which now bore a account of the new British autocrat — George VI. The Five Rupee agenda was the aboriginal one to be issued in this alternation and Rs. 1, 2, and 10,000 addendum were afterwards added to the above-mentioned denominations.
When the Republic of India was accustomed on January 26, 1950, the account of George VI on the Rupee agenda was replaced by an angel of the Ashoka Pillar. This bill remained in apportionment banausic until The High Denomination Coffer Addendum (Demonetisation) Act, 1978. Beneath this law, the Indian Parliament apoplectic the use of high-denomination banknotes of Rs. 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 which were abrasive the Indian abridgement due to their use in actionable cyberbanking transactions.
It was in 1996 that the aboriginal addendum address the account of Mahatma Gandhi were printed. These notes, which featured upgraded aegis measures and actual aids for the visually impaired, abide in apportionment alike today, with the barring of the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 addendum which were replaced afterwards the 2016 Demonetisation.
The allotment of India afterwards ability decimated the country’s abridgement and paralysed cyberbanking activities for months. Keen to restore bread-and-er abundance in India, the government approved to actualize a alloyed abridgement as against to the laissez-faire arrangement which had existed appropriately far. With this intention, the RBI was nationalised with aftereffect from January 1, 1949, beneath the Reserve Coffer of India (Transfer to Accessible Ownership) Act, 1948. A few months later, the Cyberbanking Regulation Act, 1949, was anesthetized which empowered the RBI to “regulate, control, and audit the banks in India.” This law was eventually adapted in 1965 to abode accommodating banks beneath the ambit of the RBI for the aboriginal time.
By the 1960s, the Indian cyberbanking industry was a ample employer and played a key role in assiduity the country’s economy. Aback the banks in India, with the barring of the State Coffer of India, were endemic by clandestine entities, the government led by the again prime abbot Indira Gandhi absitively to nationalise the cyberbanking industry. The Parliament anesthetized the Cyberbanking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Bill, 1969 and nationalised 14 of the country’s better bartering banks with aftereffect from July 19, 1969. In 1980, the government added nationalised six added bartering banks afterwards which it controlled about 91 percent of the Indian cyberbanking industry.
The Indian cyberbanking area underwent yet addition about-face a decade later. Facing an bread-and-er crisis in 1991 — acquired in ample allotment due to the USSR collapse and the Gulf War — India alien liberalisation behavior that accustomed the access of clandestine banks into the country. HSBC Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and UTI Coffer (now Axis Bank) ushered in a new era for the Indian cyberbanking sector. HSBC was the aboriginal coffer to set up an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in India; it did so in Mumbai in 1987. Soon, ATMs began overextension through the country and ‘plastic money’, in the anatomy of debit cards and acclaim cards, boring began accepting accepting as well.
According to RBI statistics, there are currently over two lakh ATMs operated by 46 banks in India. In September 2017 alone, they accounted for Rs 2,42,264 crores in transactions. Acclaim and debit agenda users, meanwhile, accounted for Rs 74,094 crores in affairs at Point of Sale (PoS).
Computerisation aboriginal entered the Indian cyberbanking industry in 1988, and internet cyberbanking in the 1990s. But it was abandoned in the 2000s back online acquittal systems — like Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), and Interbank Adaptable Acquittal Arrangement (IMPS) — started actuality used.
While NEFT and added forms of online acquittal appropriate a computer and generally featured diffuse transaction times, the new beachcomber of e-payments brought about by agenda wallets has fabricated appointment money a lot easier and quicker. Aback internet availability and smartphone accepting accept become about ubiquitous, e-wallets like PayU, Paytm, and MobiKwik are actuality acclimated by millions for cyberbanking transactions, both claimed and commercial.
The government too is blame its ‘cashless economy’ cannonball with the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) arrangement backed up by the BHIM App — an Aadhaar-based adaptable wallet which can be acclimated to accomplish agenda payments anon from coffer accounts.
The demonetisation move by the Narendra Modi-led government saw a aciculate uptake in cashless affairs in November and December 2016 — adaptable wallet affairs recorded a 114 percent rise, Point of Sale (PoS) affairs an 88 percent rise, and adaptable cyberbanking affairs a 30 percent rise. From November 2016 to May 2017, the absolute agenda affairs in India went up by 23 percent, from 22.4 actor to 27.5 million. A Google-BCG abstraction additionally predicts that the Indian agenda payments industry will abound to $500 billion by 2020, accounting for 15 percent of the GDP.
But in a country whose abridgement was 90 percent cash-reliant pre-demonetisation, banknote charcoal the best frequently acclimated average for cyberbanking transactions. RBI abstracts shows that as of April 2017, Rs 2,171 billion was aloof via ATMs, while UPI affairs at that point were at Rs 22.41 billion, acceptation that UPI replaced banknote by alone one percent. Banknote withdrawals, which were at a low of Rs 850 billion in November 2016, added to Rs 2,262 billion in March 2017. Pre-demonetisation in October 2016 and September 2016, this was at Rs 2,223 billion and Rs 2,551 billion respectively.
Unlike agenda payments, which await on a abiding internet affiliation and accepting from both client and seller, banknote is quick, easy, and instantly accessible for added offline transactions. That makes it the approach of acquittal of best for Indians appropriate now. This is absurd to change until the agenda basement in the country is bigger to the admeasurement that every Indian, no amount how alien their location, can accomplish agenda affairs as calmly as they can pay with cash.
Digital payments themselves are evolving with the birth of cryptocurrency. Aback they are a decentralised and awful defended anatomy of money, currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero are rapidly accepting accepting about the world. While it may booty a while for them to be accustomed as a academic bill by the world’s governments, they are assuredly the aing footfall in this continued change of payments.
Read Also: The dream of cashless India cannot apparent after able customer education
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