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No debit card swipe fee for payments up to Rs 2,000

The merchant discount rate (MDR) will be borne by the government for two years with effect from January 1, 2018 with the aim of fostering greater adoption of digital payment modes for such transactions.

business Updated: Dec 16, 2017 07:09 IST
Merchant Discount Rate,debit card payments,MDR charges
The government’s decision will accelerate digital payments in the country.(Shutterstock)

In a major push to make India a less-cash economy, the Union cabinet on Friday decided to waive the merchant discount rate (MDR) applicable on digital payments pertaining to the retail sector up to a certain threshold.

MDR applicable on transactions made through debit cards, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Aadhaar-enabled payments system up to and including a value of Rs 2,000 will be borne by the government for a period of two years with effect from January 1, said Ravi Shankar Prasad, information technology (IT) and law minister, while announcing the cabinet decision.

MDR is the charge paid by a merchant to a bank for accepting payment from customers via credit or debit cards. It is expressed as a percentage of the transaction amount.

It is estimated that the MDR to be reimbursed to banks in respect of transactions less than Rs 2,000 in value will be Rs 1,050 crore in FY19 and Rs 1,462 crore in FY20, a government statement said.

“As a result of this approval, for all transactions less than Rs 2,000 in value, the consumer and the merchant will not suffer any additional burden in

the form of MDR, thereby leading to greater adoption of digital payment modes for such

transactions,” the statement added.

“This is a revolutionary step to encourage digital payments for all retailers. Now, paying through digital modes has been made at par with cash payments... in fact, better. Cashless modes will have an edge over cash because of additional convenience and freedom from fake or counterfeit currency,” said Sunil Kulkarni, joint managing director at Oxigen Services (India) Pvt. Ltd, an e-wallet and payment solutions company.

The statement also said that

a panel comprising the secretary, department of financial services; secretary, ministry of electronics & IT; and the CEO, National Payments Corporation of India, will look into the industry cost structure of such transactions, which will help determine the levels of reimbursement.

Last week, the RBI brought in changes to MDR for debit card transactions effective January 1 . According to its latest circular on MDR, for merchants with a turnover of up to Rs 20 lakh, MDR has been capped at 0.4% if the transaction involves physical infrastructure such as a swipe machine.

If the transaction is conducted via a QR code, MDR has been further reduced to 0.3%, subject to a maximum of Rs 200 per transaction.

For merchants whose annual turnover exceeds Rs 20 lakh, MDR has been capped at 0.9% for swipe machine-based transactions and 0.8% for QR code-based sales, subject to a maximum of Rs1,000 per transaction.

Noting the growing trend in the volume of digital transactions, Prasad said that the value of digital transactions during April-September 2017 was Rs 2.18 trillion.

This amount is estimated to reach Rs 4.37 trillion for the current financial year, he added.

Prasad hailed the decision as “very crucial” to the government’s aim to grow India’s digital economy to $1 trillion by 2022.

First Published: Dec 15, 2017 18:05 IST