The Centre announced a new committee, headed by Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, to form a strategy to expedite the process of transforming India into a cashless economy.
The panel is tasked with identifying various bottlenecks affecting access of digital payments. The committee was set up following a directive from the Prime Minister’s Office to back up the demonetisation move, a senior government official said.
“The committee will identify and operationalise in the earliest possible time frame user-friendly digital payment options in all sectors of the economy. This is an integral part of the government’s strategy to transform India into a cashless economy,” according to an official statement which added that the aim was to identify various digital payment systems appropriate to different sectors of the economy and coordinate efforts to make them accessible.
The panel will engage regularly with Central ministries, regulators, state governments, district administration, local bodies, trade and industry associations to promote adoption of digital payment systems. The official, who did not want to be named, added that as part of the exercise, the Cabinet Secretary would address Deputy Collectors across the country through video-conferencing to push for the use of digital payment methods.
“The attempt is to establish and monitor an implementation framework with strict timelines to ensure that nearly 80 per cent of the transactions in India moves to the digital-only platform,” according to the government statement. The committee will also attempt to estimate costs involved in various digital payments options and oversee implementation of measures to make such transactions between the government and citizens cheaper than cash transactions.
The Centre is working towards moving all government transactions to the cashless mode, through a new single window e-payment system that individuals or businesses can use to make payments to any central or state department. The official said that during the first meeting of the committee on November 24, it was decided to rope in Common Service Centres to help train merchants to use digital payment methods.
“A cost structure is being worked out. While CSCs may bear part of the cost, they will be subsidised by the government. This may be included in the upcoming Union Budget. “Each CSC will be asked to train at least 10 merchants to use mobile wallets or get swipe machines,” the official said, adding that there are about 2.5 lakh common service centres across the country. Other members of the committee include the Financial Services Secretary; IT Secretary, DIPP Secretary; NCPI MD & CEO; Rural Development Secretary and Chairman NHAI. The government said the committee would also implement an action plan on advocacy, awareness and hand-holding efforts among public-, micro-enterprises and other stakeholders.