BELGAUM: How often have you been offered chocolates instead of small change at stores and restaurants? In an informal money exchange system, many traders especially small canteens, Hotels and pan shops in Belgaum are issuing their own ‘promissory’ notes in the form of paper vouchers in lieu of Indian currency. Customers can show such coupons/tokens of a particular trader to him and in some cases even some of the neighbouring shops accept the same for a legal transaction.
If someone buys articles at these shops, they would not return the coins or notes of smaller denomination such as Re 1, Rs 2, Rs 5. Instead, they issue pieces of paper bearing their seals and signature mentioning the amount. At first it was the chocolates and in few places still Chocolates is the official currency but due to unwilling customers for the chocolates the traders have opted for this new system. This system is not new to Belgaum and is in place since ages it is only now that the expanse has been more and now due to the scarcity of the small denomination coins each one is resorting to this system.
Canteen owners and pan shopkeeper say that giving change is almost impossible and hence this works good for them as the consumer can give the same on his next visit. It is very difficult to find coins of Re 1 or Rs 2. It will be very difficult to run our business without such coupons,” said a Canteen owner.
As far as the economists are concerned they call this as illegal and is unauthorized and violates consumers rights.
The Belgaum Chamber of commerce on many occasions has distributed the coins but when looked upon as whole market the amount is very meager. The RBI must install coin-vending machines in banks to ensure adequate stock and easy availability.
Photo credits: Atul