Union minister Smriti Irani today flagged off a ‘digital rath’ as part of an initiative to accelerate adoption of cashless payments among merchants in various cities. Under the initiative, by December 31 global payments solutions provider Mastercard aims to reach out to around 10 lakh merchants in cities, including Lucknow, Kolkata, Pondicherry, Navi Mumbai and Bhopal, to inform them about benefits of electronic payments and how to leverage the tool in expanding their business. The ‘Digital Rath’ was flagged off by Irani on the first anniversary of demonetisation. The textiles and information & broadcasting minister highlighted the role played by the countrymen, especially traders, by proactively embracing digital transactions post demonetisation.
“According to industry estimates, in the last one year alone, mobile transactions volumes have increased 218 per cent, debit card transactions have risen 103 per cent. 57 banks across the country have gone live on the UPI platform. “Transactions through the UPI were 3.8 million in April and reached 77 million in October. The sharp increase in volumes in itself is indicative how our citizens and trading community have proactively embraced digital transactions. The Digital Rath will reach every nook and corner of the country,” said the minister. Ravi Arora, Executive Director, Global Community Relations at Mastercard, who was also present on the occasion, said the company plans to invest USD 700-800 million in India by 2020, highlighting the significance of digital payments. The secretary general of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Praveen Khandelwal, said: “We are confident that through increased adoption of digital payments, merchants will enjoy increased sales, lower costs, and access to more customers”. The Digital Rath is aimed at driving behavioural change and spreading awareness on the importance of digital payments. The initiative would also extend to other Tier-II and Tier-III cities through on-ground educative sessions aimed at reaching merchants with the support of CAIT.