India has a billion phones and will technologically leapfrog in coming days: Amitabh Kant

Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, says UPIs, e-wallets have all grown by leaps and bounds since 8th November and expects a quantum jump, a huge fillip to digital payments.

The measures that have been taken by the government to give a boost as far as cashless ecosystem is concerned, in your assessment, how effective will they be?

The government has taken a series of measures to give digital payment economy a big boost. In addition to that, it is doing a lot of work in field. It is mobilising the district collectors. It is mobilising the education department. It is mobilising the food department. It is mobilising the rural development department. We are trying to convert this into a very big mass movement, a national movement where people move from cash to digital and find it easy and simple to do the transaction. There is a mental barrier because all of our life we have been dealing with cash but we are trying to break that barrier and I am quite sure that we will succeed because the poor people have got used to computers. They have got used to debit, credit cards. They got used to ATMs. They are very used to mobile phones.

But the mobile payment gateway system in India is very much at it nascent stage right now. In your assessment what could be the top two or three things the government must do to really give a push to the payment gateway?

How do you say it is at a nascent stage? Have you tried the Aadhaar-enabled payment system? It is one of the easiest systems anywhere in the world. You just need your Aadhaar number which I think everyone does. 99.1% of the people in India, adult population have an Aadhaar account and therefore you just remember your Aadhaar number. You used your thumb. You just put your bank, you do not need to remember your account number, just say your bank, state bank, it takes you straight into your account. Once you are in your account, you just do debit-credit. It is the easiest for debit or credit system. It is the easiest.

It is the easiest but in terms of numbers…

No, it will grow and expand. India is very fortunate. It has a billion Aadhaar cards. It has a billion phones and therefore it will technologically leapfrog in the coming days. India will be a very big disruptionist in this. Actually what Aadhaar system will do and what UPI system will do will be to ensure that India bypasses many steps in this technological innovation. It will bypass debit card. It will bypass credit cards. It will bypass ATMs and enable you to do open interoperable systems straight away.

What is your back of the envelope calculations in the next six months? This whole thrust has really been given by the government. What could be the kind of numbers in terms of growth that you will see for transactions and maybe also any calculations on the value of these transactions?

So I gave you the figures. Our UPIs, our wallets, have all grown by leaps and bounds since 8th November. We expect a quantum jump. We expect a huge fillip to digital payment. We expect that people will adopt this. People will give it a big thrust.

Any numbers that you can share with us by April 2017 when this scheme ends what could be the kind of numbers that we talk?
No it will be premature for me to talk about numbers but we expect a very major quantum jump.