NEW DELHI: Top ministers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet convened in the capital on Monday to chart out a roadmap for cashless payments, which is one of the government’s key agendas after the demonetisation exercise.
A plan has been chalked out in the meeting to promote tools such as Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and banking and digital wallet apps, as well as making government-owned touch points such as schools and post offices tech savvy for the disbursal of digital payments.
Also figured on top of the list was collaborating with state governments and authorities in the drive to convert the economy into a cashless one. The meeting was chaired by the minister for law, electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad. Power minister Piyush Goyal, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, health minister JP Nadda, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, Panchayati Raj minister Narendra Singh Tomar and agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh were the other participants.
The chief executive of the NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant, and about half a dozen secretaries were also present. In his monthly Mann Ki Baat address on Sunday, Modi said his government’s dream is to be make India a cashless society.
“This is correct that 100 per cent cashless society is never possible. But we can make a start with a less-cash society, then cashless society will not be a far-off destination,” he said, appealing to the youth to help in nation-building by teaching 10 families daily on how to conduct cashless transactions through mobile apps, mobile banking and debit or credit cards.
According to a government official, the agenda behind the meeting was to discuss the methodology for quicker adoption of applications available for cashless transactions. These include the UPI — the newly-launched bank account to bank account money transfer system that moves money instantaneously — SBI apps such as SBI Buddy, which is the lender’s mobile wallet application, along with private technology platforms such as wallets by Paytm or Mobikwik.
“It has also been decided that the Centre will request state governments and the authorities to support the initiatives towards converting the economy into a cashless one. In this content, the Centre will be shortly approaching states for support,” said the official, who was aware of the discussions. The meeting, held in the Parliament building, discussed how central ministries and departments can “best leverage” available interfaces for the popularisation of technology tools to aid digital payments.
“It has been decided that several interfaces should be made tech savvy. These include the common service centres (CSCs), schools, petroleum outlets, rural development ministry’s outlets and cooperative society outlets along with post offices which can play a role in not just disbursal of digital payments but also in training,” the official said.
There are around 2 lakh CSCs or Digital Seva Kendres and the ministry of IT plans to increase the number to 2.5 lakh. Monday’s meeting was preceded by a meeting last week, which was attended by power minister Goyal and IT minister Prasad to evolve a strategy to fast-track cashless transactions.
As part of Monday’s discussions, government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog has created a core team which will educate officials of central ministries on technology available for cashless transactions. The first set of presentations took place on Monday where officials of the ministries of law and justice, health and agriculture were trained.
“Pay Digitally! NITI Aayog drives the movement towards #digitalpayments in India!,” said NITI Aayog in a series of tweets. It also said a NITI Aayogled committee made a detailed presentation on easy digital payments to the chief secretaries of states on Monday.
It was attended by the CEOs of the Unique Identification Authority and NITI Aayog, and secretaries of finance and IT.
This will now be followed by meeting with district collectors and officials up to taluk levels to apprise everybody about the five modes of digital payments available to them to help the country move towards a cashless economy.