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Rapid Rise of Digital Transactions in India

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The growth in digital transactions for the fiscal years 2021-22 and 2022-23 has significantly outpaced the growth in the volume of cheques, the Union Minister for State for Finance, Bhagwat Kisanrao Karad, recently noted.

As per data from the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, during the financial year 2020-21, the total volume of cheques (Cheque Truncation System) was 657 million whereas the total volume of digital payments was 43.7 billion. During 2021-22, the total volume of cheques was 659.9 million, and 71.97 billion for digital payments. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, the total volume of cheques was 710.9 million, and for digital payments, the total volume was 113.9 billion.

During the fiscal year 2022-23, digital payments demonstrated significant growth as per the RBI Digital Payments Index (RBI-DPI). The index for March 2023 recorded a 13.24% growth when compared to September 2022, as announced in January. The RBI-DPI comprises five key components, including payment enablers, payment infrastructure (demand-side factors), payment infrastructure (supply-side factors), payment performance, and consumer centricity. The index started with a base index value of 100 in March 2018 and has been witnessing steady growth.

According to Karad, to encourage customers to adopt digital banking, RBI conducts Electronic Banking Awareness and Training (e-BAAT) programmes across the country. These initiatives aim to encourage the adoption of digital payment methods and disseminate information about safe digital banking practices. The programmes educate people about digital payment products and options available, such as mobile wallets, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) app, internet banking, Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), and pre-paid payment instruments (PPIs).

The programmes also explore the different types of digital payment frauds and offer ways to mitigate the risks and avoid falling victim to such scams. They also promote awareness about the grievance redressal mechanisms available, including the procedures and channels to report any issues or discrepancies related to digital transactions.

The Minister explained that the e-BAAT programme aims to reach a diverse audience, including bank staff, customers, government officials, students, Self Help Groups (SHGs), farmers, shopkeepers, traders, and the general public.

From 2019 until June 2023, RBI has organised a total of 1,184 e-BAAT programmes across different Regional Offices. They have educated participants about electronic payment systems, their advantages, and safety-related aspects.

Furthermore, since 2021, RBI has been conducting a Digital Payments Awareness Week during the second week of March. During the week this year, RBI launched “Mission ‘Har Payment Digital'” as an awareness initiative. The goal is to encourage and empower all citizens to become active users of digital payment methods, furthering the country’s transition towards a cashless economy.

Moreover, in commemoration of India’s 75 years of Independence, RBI introduced the ’75 Digital Villages’ programme. Payment System Operators (PSOs) will adopt 75 villages spread across the nation and transform them into digital payment-enabled villages to empower rural communities and promote financial inclusion.

RBI also uses a comprehensive, multimedia-based approach to conduct public awareness campaigns under the tag of ‘RBI Says’ or ‘RBI Kehta Hai.’ These campaigns create awareness about digital payment initiatives, with a particular focus on customer safety, security, and convenience.

Earlier this year, the government launched the Digital Payments Utsav, a campaign to showcase India’s journey of digital transformation with a series of events and initiatives. The campaign focuses on Lucknow, Pune, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru.

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