India Insight

Business of new and worn banknotes thriving in Delhi

Rakesh Kumar is not like most of the street vendors in Old Delhi. The hand-painted sign on his wooden counter, “exchange damaged, old notes,” reveals a different story. He sells money.

For the past 40 years, Kumar has offered customers new banknotes for soiled or damaged ones for a fee that earns him about 100,000 rupees ($1,600) a year. It has also helped him pay for the marriages of his three children.

“We charge commission depending on the condition of the note,” the 58-year-old Kumar said while examining some 1,000-rupee notes nibbled by rats. “Around 30-40 people come to us daily.”

Getting fresh banknotes or using soiled ones can be difficult in India. Shopkeepers and other merchants routinely refuse to accept such notes, while people require loose change and fresh notes for regular use.

This business of notes is livelihood for hundreds in Old Delhi, with vendors offering convenience to customers by charging a fee of up to 20 percent to replace damaged banknotes. A mildly damaged 500 rupee note, for instance, can be exchanged for 480 rupees, while a bundle of crisp, new 10 rupee notes valued at 1,000 rupees is priced at 1,050 rupees.

Vodafone to sell 3G iPhone in India from Rs 31,000. Pricey?

It’s official. Vodafone will sell the 8GB 3G iPhone for 31,000 rupees ($712) and the 16GB model for 36,100 rupees ($828). And this for a 3G model when India does not even have 3G services yet.

The Apple iPhone 3G is displayed in Toronto July 11, 2008.Vodafone and Airtel will launch the 3G Apple iPhone in India on August 22. Airtel is yet to announce its price for the phones but it’s unlikely the pricing will differ much.

The price of the 8GB model in the U.S. is $199 and $299 for the 16GB model. So is buying the iPhone in India worth it or will the grey market rule?