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Initially, the focus was on promoting digital payment but presently the stress is on making it a mass movement through Cash Back and Referral Bonus schemes and declaring 75 townships going less-cash


To make digital payment a mass movement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the BHIM Aadhaar platform for merchants, Cash Back and Referral bonus schemes for BHIM and declared about 75 townships going less-cash on the occasion of the 126th birth anniversary of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar in Nagpur. 
The BHIM Aadhaar is the merchant interface of the BHIM app and it will pave the way for making digital payments by using the Aadhaar platform. Any Indian citizen can pay digitally using their biometric data (thumb imprint) on a merchants’ biometric-enabled device which could be a smartphone having a biometric reader. Any citizen without access to smartphones, internet, debit or credit cards will be able to transact digitally through the BHIM Aadhaar platform. 


Already, 27 major banks are now on board with 7.15 lakh merchants so that they can start accepting payments using BHIM Aadhaar. One can expect more banks onboarding along with increase in merchant numbers as government has a strong push to make digital payment a way of life in the days to come.  
Initially, the government's focus was on promoting digital payments but now the focus is on creating awareness about digital payments to the grassroots level through BHIM Cash Back and Referral Bonus scheme. The scheme has an overall outlay of Rs.495 crore for a period of six months. Under the Referral Bonus scheme, both the existing user who uses BHIM and the new user who adopts BHIM would get a cash bonus credited directly to their account. Under the Cash Back scheme, the merchants will get a cash back on every transaction using BHIM. Both schemes are to be administered by the Ministry of IT & Electronics and would be implemented by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI).

Digital Payment Statistics 

•    BHIM App has registered 1.9 crore downloads in just four months
•    Digital transactions volume has increased by about 23 times with 6,380,000 digital transactions in March 2017 to 280,000 transactions in November 2016
•    The value of digital transactions has increased from Rs.101 crore in November 2016 to Rs.2,425 crore in March 2017
•    Aadhaar-enabled payments have increased from 2.5 crore in November 2016 to over 5 crore in March 2017
•    Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) transactions have also increased from 3.6 crore to 6.7 crore during the same period


Niti Aayog focussed on creating awareness about digital payments through Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana which have come to an end after a rigorous 100-day information, education and communication campaign. The Prime Minister felicitated the winners of the mega draw of the two major incentive schemes to promote digital payments – Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapaar Yojana. 100 days of Digi-Dhan Melas was led by NITI Aayog in 100 cities across India for enabling increased usage of digital payments. As per government numbers, at least 15,000 institutions have gone cashless across just these 100 rural and urban cities. With a turnout of over 15 lakh from cities, small towns and villages, the melas have enabled lakhs to open new bank accounts as well as create new Aadhaar cards. 


Under the scheme, Rs.258 crore of prize money was won by 16 lakh winners, including customers and merchants belonging to different corners of the country and from varied walks of life. 20-year-old Shradha Mohan Mengshette, a second year student of Electrical Engineering from Latur district in Maharashtra, emerged as the winner of Rs.1 crore mega draw for consumers. The second prize of Rs.50 lakh, under the Lucky Grahak Yojana for consumers was won by Hardik Kumar, a 29-year-old primary school teacher from Khambhat in Gujarat. The third prize of Rs.25 lakh went to Bharat Singh from the Sherpur village in Uttarakhand.


The first prize of Rs.50 lakh, under the Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana category for merchants, was won by Anand Ananthapadmanabhan of GRT Jewellers in Tambaram, Tamil Nadu. The second prize of Rs.25 lakh was won by Ragini Rajendra Uttekar, owner of a small beauty parlour in Thane, Maharashtra. The third prize of Rs.12 lakh was won by 33-year-old Shaik Rafi who runs a wholesale clothing store in Ameerpet, Telangana. 


BHIM app has already created a new record by registering 1.9 crore downloads in just four months since its launch in December 2016. Until November 2016, the volume of all digital transactions was 280,000 which amounted to Rs.101 crore in value terms. In just four months, by March this year, the volume of payments using various digital payment modes saw an increase of about 23 times amounting with 6,380,000 digital transactions for a value of  Rs.2,425 crore. 
Aadhaar-enabled payments have increased from 2.5 crore in November 2016 to over 5 crore in March 2017. Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) transactions have also increased from 3.6 crore to 6.7 crore during the same period. 


In order to achieve the target of 2,500 crore digital transactions during the current financial year, the government will also announce about 75 townships spread all over India as “less-cash townships”. A less-cash township is one where the deployment of payment acceptance infrastructure is complete, all the families in the township are covered under the training programmes. The townships selected for the launch have been subjected to independent third-party assessment by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and only those townships which have reported more than 80% of the total number of transactions in the township being done through digital modes of payments during the review period are included in this list. These townships are likely to generate over 1.5 lakh digital transactions every day, thereby leading to about 5.5 crore digital transactions in a year.


The BHIM Cash Back and Referral Bonus schemes and less-cash townships will definitely help the government to promote digital payments modes to the grassroots level to meet the target of 2,500 crore digital transactions during the current financial year from the present 101 crore transactions in the month of March 2017. 
Pravin Prashant 
pravin@varindia.com

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