The government’s push for demonetisation and digitization has given a big boost to e-wallet companies like PayTM . Unlike earlier, when people opted for cash or cheque transactions, the shortage of cash and closure of ATMs for a long duration from November 2016, forced people to pay through e-wallets or debit cards . They say anything practised for forty days becomes a habit. And rightly so, I feel, for scores of people are now opting for e-payments out of choice rather than compulsion.
Banks and mobile companies are also waking up to the fact that small payments made through e-wallets translate into huge amounts. If the transaction cost billed to merchant establishments on card payments is reduced, many more establishments will be amenable to accepting small amounts through card payments.
The Paris Visite Travelcard card is hailed as one of the best and convenient options for tourists to traverse across metro destinations across Paris with mere swiping of the card. The Paris Pass is a comprehensive sightseeing card for tourists offering free entry to Paris Museums, rides on hop-on, hop-off buses and includes the Paris Visite Travelcard. The Smart Card introduced by Indian Railways in Mumbai has made travel across the Central and Western Railway lines so easy . Being a refillable card, an amount as small as fifty rupees can be filled at a time. No more waiting in long queues for the tickets, the ATVM automated ticket vending machine reads the card and generates the paper ticket. This increasingly opting for online bookings. A tech savvy generation, larger disposable incomes, extensive promotional campaigns on social media have all contributed in digitization playing a key role in promoting travel. The Goa government could introduce a ‘Goa Smart Card’ for tourists which could give them discounts at various museums, hotels, eateries, shuttle services, adventure sports and other facilities. It could even tie-up with hospitals and clinics to offer discounts to tourists and thus promote medical tourism.
In 2009, Nandan Nilekani launched the Aadhar Card a unique 12 digit identification code issued to Indian citizens. It is the largest biometric ID system in the world. Almost the entire country is now covered by aadhar. According to government data, the aadhar scheme has helped the government to save over Rs.34,000 crore by way of direct transfer of funds to the beneficiary’s accounts. It is a valid KYC document for opening bank accounts, pension accounts etc. It is worth noting that Aadhar was launched by the UPA government but the Aadhar Act passed by the government in 2016 gave a legislative basis to aadhar.
Habits die hard. Habits are difficult to break. It is human tendency to oppose anything new, to resist change. If the ultimate objective is to effect a change for the better, sometimes compulsion could be considered. There are a lot of good initiatives taken up by the government. ‘Swatch Bharat’, beach beautification, clean roads etc. But a good number of people continue their old habits of littering public places, damaging property, misusing plastic etc. Why? Because we think we have the option of doing so. However, if that option is taken away and if still stricter rules or stiffer fines are imposed, we would form new habits out of new compulsions. Perhaps better ones.
Download GCCI Bulletin April 2017