The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has called for increasing the use of electronic mode to conduct financial transactions and in payment and settlement systems.

The apex bank is spending over Rs. 2,000 crore for printing currency notes to meet the country's burgeoning economic requirements besides which huge sums are being spent on printing cheques, informed K.R. Ananda, RBI Regional Director.

He was addressing an outreach programme on payment and settlement systems organised here on Friday by the ICICI Bank as part of the RBI's platinum jubilee celebrations.

Similar programmes were already held at Tiruchi and Coimbatore.

“Standing at Rs. 46 lakh crore, the monthly turnover in payment and settlement systems in India is even more than the gross domestic product. Traditional methods of transactions will only increase costs besides wasting considerable human resource in routine work that could be performed by machines. The United Kingdom is moving towards a cheque-less society,” he said.

The popularity of electronic payment products, which offer more security, efficiency and are eco-friendly, is increasing. From Rs. 69.02 million in 2006-07, Electronic Clearance System (ECS) credit transactions rose to Rs. 88.39 million in 2008-09. The ECS debit transactions rose from Rs. 75.20 million to Rs. 160 million during the same period.

Speaking about cheque transactions, Mr. Ananda said that the introduction of Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) Cheque Processing Centres had reduced the transaction duration from around ten days to just two days, even for outstation cheques that earlier took four weeks.

Of the total 66 MICR centres in India, Tamil Nadu had the highest number. The ten centres in the State conducted 27 million transactions in 2008-09.

These centres accounted for nearly 90 per cent of all cheque transactions in the country, he said.

Speaking about counterfeit currency notes, Mr. Ananda said that Tamil Nadu was doing well on this front with police performing a pro-active role and quickly going to the roots of the problems. The State saw on an average seven to eight fake notes for every ten lakh pieces, he said.

Speaking earlier, Meera Yoga, Deputy General Manager, ICICI Bank, said that a robust electronic system of payment and settlements had been developed in India with RBI spearheading its use.

D. Sethy, General Manager, RBI (National Clearing Cell), said that the apex bank was working towards improving the access for common man to settlement and payment systems.

S. Dhamodaran, Senior General Manager (Global Operations), ICICI Bank; S. Gurushankar, vice-chairman, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, and Viral Rupani, Deputy General Manager, ICICI Bank, spoke.