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Parliamentary panel to seek sops to boost digital payments

Committee wants incentives to also cover bulk transactions in the business to business (B2B) sector.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2018 08:36 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Demonetisation,digital payment,credit cards
A parliamentary committee wants the government to give incentives for use of digital payment tools like phone apps, e-wallets, credit cards.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A Parliamentary standing committee plans to ask the Union finance ministry to incentivise digital payments across platforms and even for so-called merchant transactions in a move that could provide another boost to electronic or cashless payments.

The panel, a lawmaker said on condition of anonymity, will recommend that transactions on digital platforms (phone, e-wallets, credit card) should also be eligible for incentives that are currently available only on BHIM-based applications. This person added that it will also ask for the incentivisation of transactions other than the payment of insurance premiums and fuel purchases that are currently eligible.

The recommendations, finalised in August, will come in the panel’s latest report on India’s transformation towards a digital economy. The report also assumes significance as cashless transactions hovered between 2.041 (February) and 2.224 billion (May) in the past 6 months without much growth.

After the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes was announced in late 2016, the government came up with a number of steps to incentivise digital payments including cash prizes, waiver in convenience fees and merchant discount rates.

While the panel appreciated such steps, it now wants incentives to also cover bulk transactions in the business to business (B2B) sector. The latest suggestion of the finance panel also comes as the government plans to launch a pilot project for cash-back incentives on Goods and Services Tax (GST) payments if the payer users Rupay cards or the BHIM app. The maximum cash back would be Rs 100.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry also informed the panel that it is working with the Reserve Bank of India to enable a framework for determination of liability in case of frauds in digital transactions.

New incentives might help the government reduce the cash in the market. India’s cash to GDP ratio was 12.2 % at the end of March 2016 and 8.0% at the end of March 2018, albeit on an expanded GDP. Analysts say there is significant headroom for growth in both the number of digital transactions and payment facilities per million people.

The committee member cited above said: “Much more needs to be done to promote digital transactions. In today’s world, when technology is rapidly changing, the government must widen the scope of incentives. Already, many e-commerce players offer cash back and other sops.”

Experts feel that if such an incentive is offered, it might help MSME sector lessen the burden of GST. “It can be of significant help to the MSME sector particularly. If the government offers 1% or 2% discount for making digital payments, effectively the GST burden will come down. Currently, almost all MSME units use cashless system,” said Tamal Sarkar, executive director of Foundation for MSME Clusters.

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 08:25 IST