The government, industry body FICCI and UN-based 'Better Than Cash Alliance' came together to host a 'Merchant Digitisation Summit' with a special focus on Himalayan and North Eastern regions and aspirational districts of India.
The summit brought together leaders from public and private sectors to accelerate responsible digitisation of merchants, the Finance Ministry said in a release. The summit was a part of series of learning exchange amongst states and union territories.
"Along with the increased focus on 'Make in India' through 'AatmaNirbhar Bharat' scheme, responsible digitisation must more strongly include rural networks such as self help groups and community enablers to create local digital ecosystems to help millions of merchants join the formal economy, access credit, and grow their business," K Rajaraman, Additional Secretary in Department of Economic Affairs said.
From an average of 2-3 billion digital transactions monthly, India has set an ambitious target of 1 billion digital transactions per day. Person to merchant (P2M) digital payment transactions will scale to 10-12 billion every month to contribute to India's digital economy. This is an enormous opportunity for digitised merchants. However, most digital payments solutions are designed for smartphones, whose penetration amongst merchants in these focus regions is very low.
"There was consensus during today's event that an industry-level approach was required to address the unique and fundamental challenges including gender targeting in national, regional and state-level merchant initiatives," the release said.
The participants also agreed that the National Language Translation Mission can be used to disseminate digital payments information, privacy clauses and consent in local languages for trust and empowerment. They also identified opportunities to address the challenges of connectivity, access to smartphones, and digital literacy for merchants at the last mile.
"Taking active measures to ensure merchants are protected from risks such as loss of privacy, exposure to fraud, and unauthorised fees are the tenets of responsible digital payments guidelines," said Keyzom Ngodup Massally, Head of Asia-Pacific, Better Than Cash Alliance.
The 'Better Than Cash Alliance' is a partnership of governments, companies, and international organisations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Indian government, FICCI and Better Than Cash Alliance will continue their partnership this year for responsible digitisation of merchants, the release said.