Fed up of the paucity of coins and the difficulty in handling them, a beggar has installed GPRS enabled credit/debit card swiping machine to facilitate alms collection. Sharad alias Dagdu, is a leading beggar at an extremely busy traffic signal.
This move has led to an unexpected increase in the volume of his alms. As per research done by a leading agency (research project funded by World Bank to elevate people above poverty line), lack of change was the biggest reason cited by general public for not giving alms. This report lead him to take this awe-inspiring decision.
When MFN contacted Dagdu, he told that as soon as he decided to install the machine he was flocked by bankers, primarily private ones, to install their card swiping machines. They offered hefty discounts on the merchant fees to get their machines installed. Some also offered cash back and hefty reward points for such transactions.
When contacted, bankers were pretty happy with this initiative as this would increase their volumes and result in less coin handling. They saw a lot of potential in this segment but could not substantiate on expected volumes due to lack of official data.
Dagdu also told that he has written to the Indian Beggars Association to obtain the charity commissioner’s permission to make all such donations tax-free as now these transactions could be tracked. As for the general public they feel it a status symbol to swipe card for alms and are willing to swipe higher amounts than they usually would.
Meanwhile, the local ruling political party chief has praised this initiative. Speaking at a function organized by him to felicitate Dagdu, he became emotional and narrated his emotional rags to riches story. He also urged all beggars to follow in Dagdu’s footsteps and embrace technology for better yields.
He was however against use of such technology for collecting party funds as credit card limits were not sufficient for their requirement. Speaking at the occasion, Dagdu thanked everybody for the support he has got. He left the host red-faced though after his admission that his move would result in lesser black money in circulation.
It is business as usual for Dagdu as he flaunts his swiping machine on the busy signal. His only grudge is that with the new rule introduced by RBI to key in the ATM pin, debit card transactions are taking a longer time. He has no plans to discourage such transactions though. Meanwhile engineering students have started working on developing low-cost swiping machines. One political party is backing this initiative and plan to distribute these machines free of cost with the photograph of their party chief embedded on them.
The World Bank in its latest report has highlighted the efficacy of its research report citing Dagdu’s example and sanctioned more funds for more of such research which results in alleviation of poverty. Meanwhile, Dagdu on being probed further confessed that he is a science graduate who turned to begging due to lack of employment and accidentally read the research report from the magazine page used for serving his daily dose of vada pav.