A lot of chinese people are using digital currency instead of paper money, they prefer taking their cellphones with them over paper money, and just complete transactions using their credit cards or AliPay. Because of the current situation, the majority of the transactions being done by the chinese people are online. China is starting a new system of “digital currency” or “digital yuan” to be exact, which although is just being done in four cities of China, but it is being done to meet the growing demands to use digital currency and to reduce the use of paper money. Availability of paper money or paper yuan will still be there, it will not get finished, but this is just being done to test the results of a more digitalised monetary system, which if successful will continue.
The US is also considering using a “digital dollar”, the question is if countries and economic superpowers switch to digital currency, will Pakistan switch to digital rupee? Should there be an introduction to a digital rupee to reduce the hand to hand transfer of paper money which increases risk of covid19?
The answer is uncertain, because unlike China which has no issues regarding internet and services, Pakistan is very far behind. A lot of cities and far off areas don’t even have access to basic internet facilities which is a crucial need during this time. Although pakistani people are not very literate, the good thing is people are very aware of mobile services and use of mobile phone, from beggars to laborers, even people who hardly meet their necessities and demands are able to use cell phones but that usage is strictly restricted to calling, messaging, gaming or for songs.
It seems unrealistic that a system of digital rupee is introduced in Pakistan due to the following reasons: inaccessibility of internet, illiteracy and lack of knowledge regarding use of cell phone.
We can continue using online paying services like jazzcash, easypaisa and debit or card cards, but the future points to a very different monetary system, in which there will be a requirement for a digital currency which will go alongside paper currency which will slowly and gradually replace paper currency, currently online currencies like bitcoin and facebook’s currency libra which has not even launched yet is already gaining momentum in the international markets.
We are very far behind the world and it seems impossible for a lot of people to use digital rupee but we can take baby steps to ensure tharupee. least there is availability of internet in all areas of Pakistan.