Traders’ woes Tamil Nadu

Gold comes in handy for small vendors

Easy credit: Some pawnbrokers in Chennai have fixed ₹17,000 per sovereign of gold as the amount of loan with 2% being the interest per month.

Easy credit: Some pawnbrokers in Chennai have fixed ₹17,000 per sovereign of gold as the amount of loan with 2% being the interest per month.   | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

Pawnbrokers make a killing as demand for cash hits the roof with many pledging jewellery to cellphones

Pawnbrokers and moneylenders in the city are witnessing brisk business with women, small time businessmen, traders and others knocking their gates seeking cash against gold jewellery and other documents. Those into this trade said that immediately after lockdown, businesses went mute but from end of April. There were many enquires on the formalities for pledging gold. With the shutdown gradually being eased now, people are queuing up for money.

Vijaya Amma, 58, the sole bread winner for her family said, “I work as a maid in an apartment in West Mambalam. Since the lockdown, I am at home and my employers said they can pay only 30% salary. Since I ran out of cash I went to a bank for pledging the little gold that I have and found the process to be cumbersome. That's when I went to a pawnbroker. I was given ₹17,000 for the one sovereign gold that I pledged with a 2% interest per month. I hope I'm able to retrieve this soon,” she added.

Kannan, a small trader who runs a fancy store, pledged his wife’s 10 sovereign gold with a financier and borrowed money. “I have six women employees and I need to pay their salaries. All the women are married and have children, their husbands work in small shops and if I don't pay salaries, their lives will be hit,” he said. But Mr. Kannan said that the financier asked him to pay 4% interest a month. Mr. Kannan said if you search on the internet and enter their mobile number, pawnbrokers call up and even offer to come to your doorstep.

One of the pawnbrokers said that if people could not come to the shop, they he would go to their home and check the gold and hand over the money. At a pawnbroker shop in Saidapet, there was a big queue and most of the women standing there were street vendors who sell toys, utensils and fancy items.

“There has been no business since lockdown. We need to wait till the Saidapet market opens,” said one of them and added that she wanted to pledge her husband's old cellphone for ₹400. “Since I don't have gold the money lender agreed to give cash against this phone. This will help me get rice and vegetables,” she said.

Five different pawnbrokers said that there was a surge in customers coming to pledge gold. “But we are not lending to everyone,” said a pawnbroker in Mylapore. “We ask them for ID proof and proper house address or they have to get a recommendation from our existing clients. We are getting 20-25 calls a day from people asking for cash. Earlier, it was hardly 5-10 a week,” he added.

At the pawn shop in Choolaimedu, the owner said that some clients were re-pledging the gold. “This week, a woman got a small ring which was 3 grams. I told her it was too small and she said keep this and give at least ₹500,” he said.

On the other hand, many customers who have borrowed money against gold complained that since they did not pay the interest for April and May on time, the pawnbrokers were insisting on extra payment to return the gold. Pawnbrokers said that with salary cuts and job losses expected inthe days to come, there would be more people approaching them for money.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 7:46:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/gold-comes-in-handy-for-small-vendors/article31651333.ece

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