India to become 'cashless society', PM Narendra Modi hints

'We can gradually move from a less-cash society to a cashless society'

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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has called for the nation to become a cashless society.

Mr Modi urged his country's small traders and daily wage earners to embrace digital payments.

Speaking in his monthly address on national radio, Mr Modi said the government understands millions have been affected by the ban on 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, but defended the policy.

The move is an attempt to fill Mr Modi's election promise of curbing tax evasion and unaccounted wealth.

Indian people queue outside a bank as they wait to deposit and exchange 500 and 1000 rupee notes in Amritsar, India (Getty)

"I want to tell my small merchant brothers and sisters, this is the chance for you to enter the digital world," Mr Modi said, according to a translation by Reuters.

He urged them to use mobile banking applications and credit-card swipe machines instead.

"It's correct that a 100 per cent cashless society is not possible. But why don't we make a beginning for a less-cash society in India?" Mr Modi added. 

"We can gradually move from a less-cash society to a cashless society."

Credit Suisse estimates more than 90 per cent of consumer purchases in India are made in cash.

Mr Modi also urged tech-savvy young people to teach their relatives and neighbours how to use the new technologies.