India is predominantly a country where even business transactions are conducted using cash. Evading taxation laws and not paying dues is not unheard of. According to a Bloomberg report, the value of unaccounted money in India is pegged to be around $460 billion dollars each year. However, with the current government encouraging people to use ‘electronic means and technology’ to make payments, there is a way forward. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is playing a vital role in this direction of transforming India into a ‘less-cash’ economy.
In an address through his radio programme, Mann Ki Baat, The Prime Mister of India, Narendra Modi, himself said, “Awareness towards online payments and using technology for economic transactions is increasing”. He went on to emphasize that, “the world is moving towards a cashless nation.”
Services such as UPI have been set-up by NPCI that allow people to transfer money in real-time using only a bank account and a smartphone. Currently, there are over 25 financial institutions that offer this service. The registration process is simple and people can easily start exchanging funds safely in real-time through this service.
The potential of mobile banking in India is underutilized. NPCI identified this potential and launched a service -- *99#, that allows low value remittances. By using services such as *99#, the rural population can make instant payments as well. This is further resulting in financial inclusion in sections of the society where traditional banking services are difficult to access.
“*99# has been of immense help to me when my wife fell ill and I had to make an advance payment for her hospitalization. Thanks to *99#, my daughter, who stays in Bangalore, transferred to me the necessary funds immediately, so my wife’s treatment could start” – Madhavbhai Thakkar, resident of Navsari district in Gujarat
Voice-based payments and biometrics identification will allow the predicted 520 million smartphone users to make safe payments online. Collaboration with private banking sectors will allow this movement to gain the momentum that it needs. There is no reason that the Indian populace, with its growing knowledge and access to information, to not access and avail an easy and safe way to transfer money in real time.
As NPCI’s CEO and MD, Mr. A P Hota said, “Awareness of the customer is as important as infrastructure readiness” for India to make its move towards a cash-less nation.