The Centre today asked states to promote digital payments, specially in rural areas, and review safety measures to prevent leak of personal data like Aadhaar and bank details of people. The Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity) today convened a meeting of state IT secretaries to devise a common strategy to resolve bottlenecks for expediting roll out of digital payments mainly in rural areas. The meeting was convened to push states for digital payments, “review Aadhaar and sensitise them on issues related to data protection and privacy”, Meity Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told PTI. “In the last few weeks, there has been a lot of reporting on how Aadhaar data and financially sensitive data have been shown. We sensitised the states about what are the safeguards people should take in this area,” Sundararajan said.
In the last two months, several incidents of leak of Aadhaar, bank details and personal information of people, including that of cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, have been reported in the country. Sundararajan had also shot off a letter to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories over data sharing on websites of departments, asking them to ensure strict compliance with provisions of the Information Technology Act 2000 and the Aadhaar Act 2016. On digital payments, Sundararajan said that states proposed to use common strategy for payments to be made to government departments which will also help those who are unable to deploy their own infrastructure.
She said that it was suggested that the government can look at payment gateway created by Meity or e-wallets developed by state governments as common mode of payment for government services. “One big issue is how do we enable rural? There are only 60,000 rural bank branches in the country where there are six lakh villages. There we have to approach primary agriculture credit society. We have decided to conduct a workshop on the same with NABARD,” Sundararajan said. She said that in the meeting it was decided that all states would organise a state level bankers committee dedicated to digital payments to resolve the issues.
The states of Gujarat, Telengana and Maharashtra shared their approach for enhancing digital payments. Kerala said that it would soon draw a plan to roll out digital payments in line with Meity’s concept. “We have high level of literacy, financial inclusion and 80-90 per cent people in state have phone connection. With this Kerala is well placed to significantly expand digital payments. “However, we have said that cooperative banks need to be brought on board and digital payments interface should be voice based,” Kerala IT Secretary M Sivasankar said.