Your Wallet Has Expired

Sudhanshu Ramteke
Saturday, 14 September 2019

Sudhanshu Ramteke is a stand-up comedian

Happy Birthday! Here’s your gift, open it”.

Years of disappointment had taught me that if you’re a man, there were only three things meant for you as a gift – Wallets, Belts or Perfumes. The only surprise is usually the colour or the brand of the item. I unwrapped the gift, pulled out the black leather wallet from its case and before I could perform the well rehearsed ‘being grateful’ act, the truth hit me in the face – Why do I even need a wallet anyway?

Fact check — I don’t remember the last time I visited an ATM to withdraw cash. I can’t recall what real currency looks like. I don’t know or care where my wallet is right now. All this could mean only one thing: keeper of the coins, protector of the money, collector of the cards and inspector of the expenditure, also known as the wallet, is officially dead.

After demonetisation, mobile wallets have become as important as onions are to us Indians. Mainly because they provide everything that we Indians want... 

Security: Before mobile wallets happened, Indian men used to keep their wallets inside a special ‘chor jeb’ which was right next to their front zip and women used to secure it inside their blouses. Taking out cash in public was a real challenge with such an arrangement and also humiliating at times. The journey from crotch, boobs to mobile phones has been possible only because of these mobile wallets.   

Minimal Efforts: As a kid, every time I used to run out of cash while buying groceries, I had to rush back home. Cut to 2019, I am saving time, energy and petrol with the flick of a finger. The childhood me was more healthy, but the 2019 me is definitely more happy.

Freebies: Getting discounts without even asking for it, that’s like the perfect Indian dream. Every wallet app offers promotional coupons and you’ll find ‘Cashback’ written in bigger fonts than the app’s name. When was the last time your black leather wallet converted your Rs 100 note to Rs 500?

Contributions: There is always a friend in the group who ‘forgets his wallet at home’ every time the bill arrives. With mobile wallets, these never-ending debts continue to exist but this friend can no longer bring their mobile phone to the party and has to lose out on the social media showoff routine.

Change: If I’m ever diagnosed with diabetes, it’ll be from all the chocolates that were given to me in absence of the exact change. The inability of shopkeepers to tender exact change led to a generation of kids getting addicted to éclairs. Mobile wallets have ensured that Indian kids will no longer have residual chocolate stuck to their teeth due to the scarcity of coins.

With digital photos to keep memories, app lockers to keep cards, and online receipts to keep records, there is zero utility left for these regular wallets and they are already in the ICU counting their days, if not dead. I started feeling guilty for being so harsh on an accessory that has been such an important part of our lives. To think of it, mobile wallets aren’t perfect either mainly because:

Human Interaction: I no longer see fights happening over torn currency notes, I no longer see people struggling with card machines and I no longer meet new people at the ATM queues. Gone are the days when beggars used to roam around with metal bowls and waited with patience while you withdrew money from your wallet. Now they’re just flashing QR codes and giving payment received confirmation nodes. 

Home Economy: How will the kids explore their creative side if they can no longer steal money from their parents? What will be the inspiration to run to the market to buy vegetables when you can no longer pocket the spare money? How will Indian mothers reveal their grand ‘saving for the bad day’ stash if there isn’t any money lying around? 

Demotivation: ‘Better luck next time’. If you understand this statement, you know how demotivating it is too see this message daily when you’re expecting a lottery win. Also, we grew up watching Scrooge McDuck and Richie Rich floating around in their wealth and it was always a driving force to be like them. Now, we’re just a generation that’s finding happiness in 5 per cent cashback.

“How did you like the gift?” My friend asked for the third time.

“I love it but you shouldn’t have spent so much,” I replied.

“Frankly, I didn’t spend a rupee. It’s bought from all the loyalty points I gathered on my mobile wallet.”

Irony and the famous wallet, both just died a thousand deaths.


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