Direct benefit transfers will become the norm: Arun Jaitley

If anyone wants benefit of public revenue through subsidies or any other form, the authorities can insist on production of the unique identity, says Arun Jaitley


New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday emphasized the importance of Aadhaar for cashless transactions and government schemes at a conference on digital payments.

“Eighty percent of people have mobiles in the country; we have crossed the one billion mark. Aadhaar card enrolment has reached close to 95% mark as far as adult population is concerned,” Jaitley said at the ‘Digital Payments: Inclusion, Growth and Opportunities’ meet.

The meet was organized by the Observer Research Foundation, a global think tank, in association with the Better Than Cash Alliance, a tie-up of governments and organizations that seeks to accelerate the transition from cash to digital payments to drive inclusive growth.

Direct benefit transfers, where subsidies and other benefits are directly paid to the benefiary’s bank account, will be the rule, Jaitley said.

“If anyone wants benefit of public revenue through subsidies or any other form, the authorities can insist on production of the unique identity,” added Jaitley.

Aadhaar will help rationalize, target and implement subsidies better.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was an exemplary programme with nearly 240 million people being enrolled within weeks, Jaitley said.

“No Indian can really today say that he didn’t have the facility of a bank account,” he added.

The Digital India initiative, along with the JAM, or Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile, Trinity, and Less-Cash India, are examples of such inclusive growth efforts.

Jaitley on 6 July released the ‘less cash campaign road map” of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which has launched a nationwide campaign to promote the usage of digital payments.

With over a billion a mobile connections, a quarter of a billion bank accounts (Jan Dhan) and a digital identity database (Aadhaar) of a billion, the aim is now to give a strong push to the digital future of the country.

Niti Aayog chief executive officer Amitabh Kant shared similar views in his speech during one of the sessions.

“Nothing is going to transform India other than the spread of Internet, in a rapid and fast manner. The habit of using cash has to do away,” he said.

With the help of four game changers namely Digital India, Unified Payment Interface (UPI), JAM and the expansion of Point of sale (PoS) terminals, India should move towards a completely digitized payments by 2025, Kant said.

“We have around 1.2 million PoS terminals in India. We need to take it to around 20 million in the next two years,” Kant added.

A lot of innovations in the payments landscape have happened such as doing away with Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for transactions up to Rs10,000, exemptions of wallets from two-factor authentication and use of regional languages in payment gateways. ‘The right of way’ policy which will be finalized by the government soon is expected to be another game changer.

However, digital payments still constitute just 22% of all consumer payments. The aim should be to scale this Rs50 billion industry to Rs500 billion by the end of 2020.