Indians try to sell everything from fruits to expensive watches with 2,000-rupee notes.
MUMBAI: Indians are buying more daily necessities and even high-end branded goods with the soon-to-be-outlawed 2,000-rupee notes so they don’t have to exchange them or put them in banks.
On Friday, the Indian central bank said that the country’s highest-value note would be taken out of circulation by the end of September. Even though it didn’t say why, the move comes before state and national elections in the country. This is a time when, according to experts, cash use usually goes up, often in deals that aren’t recorded.
The change in currency is expected to cause much less trouble than a move in 2016 to make 86 percent of the country’s money worthless overnight.
People have flocked to stores since the weekend to spend the 2000-rupee note so they don’t have to wait in line at banks to swap them or draw the attention of the tax department by depositing large amounts.
Several Indian shops said on Tuesday, the first day the exchange was allowed, that they were happy to take the note because it helped them make more money.
Since Saturday, a lot of people are buying mangoes with 2,000-rupee notes, said Mohammad Azhar, 30, who sells mangoes near the Crawford Market area in Mumbai, India’s financial capital.
“Now, I get between 8 and 10 notes every day. I accept it. I have no choice; it’s my job. Before September 30, I will put everything in at once. There’s nothing to worry about, since the note is good.” Michael Martis, the manager of a Rado store in a mall in central Mumbai, said that since the withdrawal was announced, the number of 2000-rupee notes in his store had gone up by 60–70%. “That has made us sell three to four watches every day instead of one or two,” said Martis.
On Monday, food delivery company Zomato said on its Twitter account that since Friday, 72% of “cash on delivery” orders have been paid for with 2,000-rupee notes. But when asked for more information, a company spokesman made it clear that the tweet was made in jest and wasn’t true. The company wouldn’t give specific numbers. Not every store owner was eager to take the notes.
“I don’t agree, and I won’t agree. A restaurant owner in South Mumbai said, “I don’t want to go through the trouble of putting it in my bank.”
In 2016, people rushed to banks to exchange the old bills for new ones. This year, however, most bank offices in Mumbai and New Delhi were quiet, with only a few people waiting in line.
The biggest bank in India, State Bank of India, had the most people at its counters because it didn’t require any paperwork to trade up to 20,000 rupees at once.