Some people would find it absurdthat there is information available online about digital payments – after all,isn’t this something that is as common as breathing, especially in today’s’digital’ world? Well, these people would be right – but only to a certainextent. The most important thing to be looked at here is that not everyone isaware of the ease of digital payments; this information has largely beenrestricted to urban and semi-urban areas. We aim to bring to everyone theknowledge about this very system – the driving force behind Prime MinisterNarendra Modi’s vision of a ‘cashless’ Indian economy, under the Digital Indiainitiative.
In this context, it becomes all more important for every Indiancitizen to understand what digital payments are all about, down to the tiniestdetail.So what exactly does one mean bydigital payment? Well, traditional payment methods have largely involved usingpaper currency, or cash, in exchange for goods and services. With time camealong various methods like inter-bank transfers, credit and debit cards, ATMmachines and today, a whole bunch of new services like point of sale machines,unified payment interface, instant money transfer, internet banking, mobilewallets and so on. To put it simply, any form of payment that involves the useof an electronic device in some form can be termed a digital payment.
This wouldthus include all the forms of payments known to man today, with just oneexception – putting cash directly in the other party’s hands. Digital payments are integral toany economy’s advancement, but in India, they play a huge role because theheart of India lies in its rural landscape, and one major problem that Indiahas struggled with is proper dissemination of information to this audience.There are many factors that contribute to this – lower literacy rate, lack oftime and resources, or just plain lack of interest by the population – but thetruth remains that India needs to focus on educating the rural population aboutthe advantages and importance of digital payments – major efforts towards whichare in place today, although the result has still much to be desired andachieved. Some of the major digital paymentmethods in use today in India include:Bank cards – these include credit and debit cards that are used byconsumers on a very large scale. The ease of use that bank cards provide isunmatched. Consumers can carry minimal cash and thus travel tension freewithout the fear of losing large amounts of money. If the card is lost, theconsumer can immediately get it blocked by contacting the issuing bank, andthus prevent fraud.
Mobile wallets – these have gained a lot of prominence ever sincethe demonetization move was announced by the Indian government, and we cansafely say that mobile wallets have helped people a lot. By means of seamlessintegration with all major banks, people can simple add money to mobilewallets, and just pay someone by scanning a code or simply by entering the recipient’sphone number. The massive reach of smartphone in India’s population makes thisa very viable digital payment option. Internet banking – though in use for quite a while now, internetbanking continues to dominate the digital payment scene, enabling consumers totransfer money, shop online and a host of convenient services with just a fewclicks, and from the comfort of their home. Mobile banking apps are a greataddition to the internet-banking suite, and provide a great user experience andconvenience at the same time. Unified Payments Interface (UPI) – we could call UPI the latecomerto the party, but this latecomer comes with a very exciting feature – it letsconsumers combine multiple bank accounts in one mobile application, thusremoving the need to contain multiple applications for digital payments.
Consumers can check their account balances, send money instantly to people withUPI set up on their phones, and receive money though UPI. The Indian governmenthas come up with its own app called BHIM, which aims to provide UPI servicesthrough a single, easy to use mobile application. To sum up, with the rapid reachthat feature smartphones have achieved among India’s rural population, and withhigh speed mobile internet services that are being offered by many telecomoperators at competitive costs, the government has had a lot of its work cutshort – the only thing remaining is to educate people about how useful digitalpayments are. However, people should not let this just be left to thegovernment = those who are already aware of these payment methods shouldeducate friends and family who are in the dark, and should ensure that theknowledge is passed on.
If each of us decided to take this seriously, it willnot take long at all to make India truly cashless, and digital. Jai Hind!