Digital wallets are teetering on the brink of obsolescence.
I returned to India shortly before the advent of demonetisation in October 2016. Digital payments were all the rage, but nothing prepared me for the frenetic excitement that followed the government’s decision to wipe out 86% of cash in circulation the following month. Digital wallet startups hailed the prime minister’s move as the event of the century.
Overnight, newspaper advertisements, display ads, and retail signage mushroomed everywhere, shrilly announcing that operators like Paytm*, MobiKwik and FreeCharge were open for business. Everyone from grocery stores to paan shops loudly proclaimed they now accepted one or other digital wallet.