Long bank queues in In­dia? There’s an app for that! ‘Cho­tus’ will stand in line for cus­tomers

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Huge bank queues have be­come an ubiq­ui­tous sight across In­dia after the govern­ment sud­denly with­drew the two high­est de­nom­i­na­tion notes from cir­cu­la­tion two weeks ago-but now you can hire-a-queuer on­line.

New Delhi-based startup BookMyCho­tua play on the Hindi word “chotu” mean­ing “lit­tle one”-is cash­ing in on the cash crunch, of­fer­ing a so­lu­tion for those will­ing to pay some­one to stand in line for them. “Are you short of cash? Need a Helper to stand in queue of the bank/ATM till the time your turn comes??”, reads an ad on the com­pany’s Face­book page.

“Our boys will not go in­side bank, they will just stand in the queue for our cus­tomers as we un­der­stand that there can be some emer­gency and our helpers can help you by sav­ing your valu­able time.”

A “chotu” costs 90 ru­pees ($1.30) per hour or 550 ru­pees for wait­ing for a max­i­mum of eight hours, and is only avail­able in Delhi and neigh­bor­ing cities. In­di­ans have un­til the end of the year to ex­change their old 500 and 1,000 notes — 85 per­cent of the cash in cir­cu­la­tion-for the new 500 and 2,000 ru­pee bills, or de­posit them into ac­counts.

The sur­prise de­ci­sion is part of the govern­ment’s as­sault on “Black money” un­de­clared, un­ac­counted cash-and aims to bring more money into the for­mal bank­ing sys­tem and ul­ti­mately boost the econ­omy. But it has caused a rush on the banks, while short­ages of new notes and prob­lems re­cal­i­brat­ing ATMs to fit the new bills have seen hours-long queues form out­side banks na­tion­wide.

BookMyChotu was orig­i­nally launched as an on­line plat­form to help peo­ple hire tem­po­rary helpers, but founder and CEO Sat­jeet Singh Bedi said he had re­ceived pos­i­tive and cu­ri­ous re­sponses since they started of­fer­ing “cho­tus” to stand in bank queues.

“It started when my mother was ill and I im­me­di­ately needed cash,” Bedi told the Hin­dus­tan Times news­pa­per. “I re­quested my team­mates to stand in the queue in place of me and quickly re­placed them when my turn came.”

But some on so­cial me­dia have crit­i­cised the site’s name, say­ing “chotu” im­plies child labour.

“Re­ally @bookmychotu!? Can’t find any bet­ter name? This ap­pears to pro­mote child labour,” tweeted Ma­hen­dra. “A ser­vice called bookmychotu to hire helpers...sounds so wrong on so many lev­els!” wrote Muskaan.

The com­pany ap­peared ready for the crit­i­cism, and in a dis­claimer on the site wrote: “*Please Note: “Chotu” is just a name and the same is be­ing used for brand­ing pur­poses. We have no in­ten­tions to hurt any­one’s sen­ti­ments.”

All helpers are well trained and over the age of 18, the com­pany added on its Face­book page. —AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian girl walks past a col­or­ful bal­loon in­stal­la­tion at a shop­ping mall in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day. —AFP

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