New Cash Streams for a Start-Up Fueled by India’s ‘Black Money’ Cleanup

India’s ban on 500 and 1,000 rupee notes has opened up a new revenue stream for one Delhi-based start-up even though it might have sent the country into chaos.

People are queuing up in banks for hours to exchange their old currency due to the new rules in India. However, this new start-up promises to provide a helper to users on hire to stand in the queue for up to eight Hours. The startup is called Book My Chotu – an Indian term used for a little boy or girl who works as a helper in shops and households.

With a number of users calling it “insensitive” and “insulting” to children who are still part of a massive child labor industry in India, the website’s branding has received a massive backlash on social media while the company, on its website, makes it fairly clear that all “chotus” are above the age of 18 years.The company’s chief executive officer thinks the criticism is unnecessary.

“I think any publicity is good publicity. There are a lot of people criticizing the name but what they don’t understand is that it is a simple service to help people. It is a small step towards helping the government and helping the common man,” Satinder Bedi, founder and chief executive officer of Book My Chotu, said.

The name is being used for branding purposes as the company on its website states that “chotu” is just a name.

“We have no intentions to hurt anyone’s sentiments. All chotus/helpers are above the age of 18 and they have no objection with this name.”

But users on social media have expressed shock and disappointment over the company’s choice of branding as the company continues to see a great deal of criticism.

The branding has nothing to do with the concept of child labor, the company’s CEO iterated.

“We are completely against child labor. It is a branding name for us. All our helpers are above 18 years. The name comes out of emotional attachment. You would call ‘chotu’ to your younger brother and younger sister. Ever since I launched the venture, my dad calls me ‘chotu’.”

In order to tackle the rampant problem of so-called “black money” – billions of dollars’ worth of cash in unaccounted wealth and fake currency notes, earlier this month, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the radical step to demonetize the currency notes. The government has decided to introduce a higher denomination banknote of 2,000 rupees and a new 500 rupee note.

However, people have been waiting outside banks to exchange old currency notes for new ones ever since the announcement on November 8. The crowds have been getting more and more restless with every passing day while analysts and celebrities across the country have applauded this move.

For a maximum of eight hours to stand in the queue on your behalf, Book My Chotu lets you hire a helper for 90 India rupees ($1.30) per hour.

“Are you short of cash? Need a helper to stand in queue of the bank/ATM till the time your turn comes?” the company said in a Facebook post. The company further explained that these helpers will only stand in the queue in order to save time and effort and will not go inside the banks.

However many people have called this a “smart way to create employment in the time of crisis” even though the service is available only in Delhi at the moment.

(Adapted from CNBC)

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Categories: Economy & Finance, Entrepreneurship

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