Thursday 5 August 2021
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No on card and digital transactions; Cabinet pushes for cashless ecosystem

New Delhi: Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its for introduction of steps for promotion of payments through cards and digital means. The move aims at reducing cash transactions. Several short term (to be implemented within one year) and medium term measures (to be implemented within two years) have been approved for implementation by the government ministries, departments, and organisations.

Promotion of payments through cards and digital means will be instrumental in reducing tax avoidance, migration of government payments and collections to cashless mode, discourage transactions in cash by providing access to financial payment services to the citizens to conduct transactions through card and digital means and shifting payment ecosystem from cash dominated to non-cash or less cash payments.

The essential features of the proposals for promotion of payments through cards and digital means include steps for withdrawal of surcharge, service charge, convenience fee on card, digital payments currently imposed by various government departments and organisations and introduction of appropriate acceptance infrastructure in government departments, organisations; rationalization of Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) on card transactions and a differentiated MDR framework for some key transaction segments; mandating payments beyond a prescribed threshold only in card or digital mode; introduction of formulae linked acceptance infrastructure by the stakeholders of certain card products; rationalisation of telecom service charges for digital financial transactions; promotion of mobile banking; and creation of necessary assurance mechanisms for quick resolution of fraudulent transactions and review the payments ecosystem in the country.

Background

The infrastructure of card and digital payments is growing, but remains modest in comparison to cash payments. For card and digital payments to increase, they should be easy to use, readily available and accepted, should not impose any undue financial burden on the merchant and user, and should offer an appropriate level of security.

While the payment system initiatives taken in the form of Electronic Clearing Service Scheme, National Electronic Funds Transfer, Real Gross Settlement Scheme etc. have been impressive, the benefits of modern card and digital payment systems are yet to reach all sections of the society and be accepted across the length and breadth of the country. Current experience and evidence indicates that the penetration and success of modern card and digital payment products and services is concentrated to a large extent in the tier-l and tier-ll locations of the country and mostly to those citizens who have access to the formal banking channels.

The introduction of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 has resulted in deeper acceptance and penetration of modern card and digital payment systems in the country, Aadhaar Enabled Payment Systems (AEPS) has been brought to effect to leverage upon biometric verification and a domestic card network namely, RuPay.

The Reserve Bank of India has also recently approved licences for setting up of Payments Banks with the objective of greater financial inclusion by the payments banks by providing small savings accounts and payments/ services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses, other unorganised sector entities.

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