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Reserve Bank of India aims for a fourfold increase in digital transactions by 2021

As step towards a cashless society, the Reserve Bank of India released a vision document to ensure safe, secure, accessible, quick, and affordable e-payment systems as it expects the number of digital transactions to increase more than four times to 8,707 crores by December 2021.

RBI said that the ‘Vision 2021’ for payment and settlement systems in India will enhance the strong foundation it has built over the last two decades. The approach outlined in the Vision will be implemented from 2019 to 2021.

The endeavour will also serve segments of the population that do not use e-payment systems. The decade to follow will witness a revolutionary shift in the way Indian citizens use digital payment options.

The plan consists of a two-pronged approach of exceptional customer experience and enabling an ecosystem that will result in this customer experience. The document said it aims to empower payment system operators and service providers; enable the ecosystem and infrastructure; put in place modern regulations; and be supported by risk-focussed supervision.

RBI said it recognised that cash entails a significant cost to the whole economic system, including consumers. Migration to digital modes of making a payment can obviate some of these costs and can give customers a more enjoyable experience.

Providing users with multiple options is expected to make this experience exceptional, apart from furthering growth measurable in terms of digital payments turnover to GDP.

The payment systems landscape will continue to change with further innovation and the entry of more players is expected to ensure optimal costs to the customers and freer access to multiple payment system options.

Some of the expected outcomes of the vision include:

  1. A decrease in the share of paper-based clearing as a percentage of retail payments, particularly in terms of the number of paper instruments processed. The volume of cheque-based payments will likely be less than 2% of the retail electronic transactions by 2021.
  1. Payment systems like the Unified Payment Interface are likely to register average annualised growth of over 100% and NEFT at 40% over the vision period.
  1. An increase in the use of digital modes of payment for the purchase of goods and services through an increase in debit card transactions at PoS (35% increase during the vision period) and continued growth in PPI transactions.
  1. The usage of debit cards at PoS transactions is expected to be at least 44% of total debit card transactions. In value terms, it is 15% in 2018-19 (5% in 2014-15) and is expected to be 22% by 2021.
  1. An increase in the deployment of card acceptance infrastructure across the country, including at smaller centres with a substantial portion of the infrastructure taking care of processing contactless card payments. The total card acceptance infrastructure will be upscaled to six times present levels by the end of 2021.
  1. Enhanced usage of electronic payment systems is expected to reduce the marginal cost given the additional volume. The pricing of these services to customers should, over the vision period, reduce by at least 100 Bps from current levels.
  1. The Fraud to Sales (FTS) count for payment systems is expected to be less than 10 Bps for most of the payment systems.
  1. Enhanced healthy competition in the payments space and the establishment of new PSOs from 2019 to 2021.


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