New Delhi: In a bid to push for digital transactions in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a new payment application called BHIM which stands for Bharat Interface for Money. It is coined in remembrance of Ambedkar, renowned social reformer and principal architect of the Indian Constitution.
Speaking at Digi Dhan Mela event held at Talkatora stadium, Modi said that the BHIM app when fully rolled out in 2 weeks, will be witnessed as biggest wonder of the world. Throughout his 40-minute speech the PM stated that the idea behind this app stemmed from Ambedkar’s vision for uplifting people belonging to economically weaker sections of the society. He also made a payment to Khaadi for demonstration of how the app works.
BHIM is a rehashed version of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). Modi said that a fully functional BHIM app with all security features enabled and integrated with Aadhaar platform will be available for users in 2 weeks. Users won’t need a mobile or internet connectivity and a simple biometric reader to scan thumb impression for user authentication will do. Using this new app, users can perform retail banking operations such as money transfers, balance inquiry through UPI.
Post demonetization move on November 8, many mobile payment apps such as Paytm, Mobikwik and Freecharge became popular choices for users switching to digital transactions. BHIM is expected to directly compete with these commercial apps. So far, merchants across the country relied on service provider companies such as Visa or MasterCard to execute business transactions using plastic cards (credit/debit) with their consumers. BHIM will eliminate the need to pay service providers and merchants can use it free of charge.
To use this app, merchants should download it on their android smartphones connected to a biometric reader. Customers can simply feed their Aadhaar number, choose their choice of bank for transaction and use their thumbprint for the biometric reader to scan and authenticate a transaction. The biometric scan functions as a replacement to customer password. The only caveat in this mode is that the merchants have to invest in the biometric reader which currently costs approximately Rs 2000 in the market.
In his speech Modi further said Ambedkar had pioneered the idea of a central banking system and was instrumental in shaping the federal structure of India post-independence. The BHIM app, the PM said, can tremendously benefit micro merchants and even daily wage earners who provide services such as laundry, cleaning etc. by building transaction history which was not available before. This way, banks can facilitate soft loans for this segment of population easily and slowly move them away from usury.
For the past three days, the BJP headquarters on Ashoka Road, New Delhi, witnessed huge Dalit and OBC congregations. The prime minister also paid glowing tributes to Bhimrao Ambedkar while addressing the “DigiDhan” rally at the Talkatora Stadium. Caste is clearly in his mind.
Taking a jibe at opposition parties, Modi added he can’t help people who are pessimistic but can offer thousands of opportunities for those who are optimistic. India being a nation of young people with approximately 65% of its population under age of 35 and about 100 crore Aadhaar card holders, can totally change the face of India if they all decide to adopt to this digital revolution, he said. Modi encouraged people to start using this app from 1 January 2017. He said if people can make a minimum of 5 transactions each day, it will become a habit and revolutionize the way economy runs in future.
Few things about BHIM:
- BHIM can work as a common app for all financial institutions and facilitates UPI.
- App is currently available only in two languages: English and Hindi.
- Users can download this app from Google Play on devices with Android Operating System (OS). Currently this app is not supported on other OS.
- App uses user’s mobile number to link bank accounts of that user to which the same mobile numbers has been registered.
- Currently, this app provides balance inquiry and amount transfers free of charge.
Union Minister for Information Technology and Law, Ravi Shankar Prasad mentioned during the launch that post November 8, digital payments has grown from 200% to 4000%. Prasad said that country will be totally transformed once Aadhaar integrated app is available.