Kerala State Beverages Corporation to go Cashless

Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) is set to install card swiping machines in their Foreign Liquor shops throughout Kerala. They have published the tender notice on all major newspapers on 25th May, 2017, inviting Banks to supply card swiping machines for all 271 FL-1 category Liquor shops spread throughout Kerala.

According to the tender notice by the State Beverages Corporation, introduction of swiping machines will provide better facilities to the customers of KSBC retail shops. It has also been said that, initially KSBC’s self help premium counters will be the set of retail shops to avail this service.

“This move by the KSBC could be a stepping stone for Kerala government to go cashless. If you ask me this idea should’ve been implemented at the time of demonetization. A lot of people that I knew just couldn’t spend the little amount of cash that they had to buy alcohol and there was no way for us to use our Debit cards in KSBC outlets,” says Jacob Anthony, who is resident of Thodupuzha. During that time, people had to resort to Beer and Wine parlors where drinks were sold at a marginally higher price.

According to studies, the profile of liquor users reveals that around 32.9 lakh people of the 3.34 crore population in the state consumes liquor, which includes 29.8 lakh men and 3.1 lakh women. Around five lakh people consume liquor on a daily basis. Of this, around 83,851 people, including 1,043 women, are addicted to alcohol.

Since the demonetization, the per day collection of roughly Rs30 crore at the beverage outlets had dropped by nearly 30%, leading to a loss of about Rs50 crore since 9 November, 2016 at the time. Many believe that, if card swiping machines were there in KSBC’s retail outlets at the time, the numbers would’ve been different and that it wouldn’t have lead to such drastic shortcomings.

“Introduction of swiping card machines is meant for the convenience of customers, they don’t need to carry their cash around, especially when it comes to buying expensive alcohol bottles,” said a senior official of KSBC.

Some employees believe that, introduction of swiping card machines will slow down their sale process in normal KSBC outlets and are better suited for self help premium counters. Sadheeshan, an employee of KSBC outlet in Kozhikode says that, “Introduction of swiping machines along with self help premium counters will make things easier for customers and employees. No crowd, no rush, it’ll be like any grocery shop.”

He further added that, “If swiping machines are introduced in normal retail shops, it might delay the process due to the typical large crowd that you can always find in front of any KSBC outlet. So we will just have to wait and find out how that will turn out.”

According to the data given by the KSBC, the Corporation during 2016-17 had an annual turnover of Rs. 12,134 crores, out of that, Rs.9900 crores were through FL-1 Liquor retail shops. There are over 270 FL-1 outlets, out of that 50 come under the self help premium counters and each shops makes around 10.40 lakh per day. For a business with such revenue, going cashless could make transactions safer and easier.


Cover image by Kjetil Ree from Oslo, Norway (Vinmonopolet avdeling Kerala) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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