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Centre sets target of 18-billion digital transactions to cut dependence on cash

Even as criticism over demonetisation continues, the Narendra Modi-led govt has zeroed in on five action points to boost digital transactions across the country in the near future.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2017 15:09 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Digital transactions,Liquid cash,Narendra Modi government
The government wants to rationalise the merchant discount rate, the fee charged from a merchant by a bank for providing debit and credit card services, and cap it on debit cards. (Sunil Ghosh /HT Photo)

The NDA government has set an ambitious target of 18 billion digital transactions for 2017-18 to further reduce the dependence of the country’s economy on liquid cash.

According to data furnished by the IT ministry before a parliamentary panel last week, the government already saw 10 billion digital transactions cutting across platforms from April to October. It hopes another eight billion transactions will take place in the remaining five months, strengthening its push for a digital economy amid the Opposition’s criticism of demonetisation.

Following the demonetisation of high-value banks notes on November 8 last year, the Centre introduced a slew of measures – from Aadhaar-based transactions to discounts on rail tickets, petrol, road toll and insurance premiums – for incentivising digital payments.

Even as the government locked horns with the Opposition over the fallout of the demonetisation initiative on Tuesday, finance minister Arun Jaitley again pitched for the removal of excess currency from the system. “With Rs 15.28 lakh crore returning to the formal banking system, almost the entire cash-holding of the economy now has an address. It is no more anonymous,” he said.

A year after the controversial move, the Centre has zeroed in on five action points to boost digital transactions across the country in the near future. It wants to increase the adoption of the Bharat Bill Payment System and print Bharat QR on all utility bills, so millions of Indians find it easier to pay their monthly bills through the digital route.

The IT ministry has also told the panel that digital payments will be made “visibly cheaper” than cash transactions.

Besides this, the government wants to rationalise the merchant discount rate, the fee charged from a merchant by a bank for providing debit and credit card services, and cap it on debit cards. Also on the cards is a “syndicated campaign” with banks, departments and states for ensuring the growth of digital payments.

First Published: Nov 08, 2017 14:50 IST