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Centre to finance digital discounts

The Centre has decided to bear the burden imposed on public sector firms on account of the many discounts and incentives offered to promote digital payments.

The plan is to create a new expenditure head in the exchequer’s accounts that will absorb the costs of such measures.

Public sector insurers, oil-marketing firms and others will thus not take a hit on their books for the Centre’s cashless push.

The government has offered many discounts on transaction charges and merchant discount rates that accompany payments using cards or online last week.

More measures

A senior source in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told The Hindu that this and other measures were being put in place to enable a cashless transactions ecosystem. “Going forward, all government organisations, public sector undertakings and authorities have been advised to review rules and regulations to support digital payments, adopt payment-related solutions and absorb transaction fees and activate payments facility through the ‘Pay Gov India’ if they have such a facility,” said a senior official in the government involved in the exercise.

Most important, however, “all geographical areas across the country have been mapped with banks/bank mitras and ‘dark/grey spots’ (where there are no banks or even banking correspondents) identified. We are also looking at the possibility of providing connectivity through VSAT and other means on a priority basis,” the official said.

Non-tax receipt portal

A non-tax receipt portal, bharakosh.gov.in, has been developed to enable users to make non-tax payments to the government for 237 categories including spectrum charges, RTI application fees, and purchase forms online, without going to either a bank or a government office.

“Mobile banking through interoperable automatic teller machines (ATM) has been launched, 81,000 ATMs or 12 banks are already live and another 15,000 machines are expected to go live shortly,” the government official said.

A jump of 1.1 million in the deployment of PoS/mobile PoS machines (from 14 lakh to 25 lakh) is expected to take place by March 2017.

PoS machines

“All 5.5 lakh fair price shops run by the government are being equipped with micro ATMs/PoS terminals, which will enable them to undertake digital payment transactions or even be banking correspondents,” the source said.

“A standardised, interoperable multi-purpose, multimodal National Common Mobility card is being developed for smart cities and is ready for testing on a pilot basis,” added the government official.

While many of these measures had been announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last week, more formalisation of, or structures around, a cashless ecosystem seems to be taking place within the government machinery.

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