With chaos in banks and ATMs post-demonetisation continuing, the Niti Aayog has started holding sessions for government officials to train them in digital payment modes. Copies of the presentation have also been sent to the states and Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant held a meeting with state chief secretaries and finance secretaries on Monday evening through video conferencing asking them to ensure wide dissemination of the information.
“We want to make digital payment a mass movement. It is not just about ministries and states we will go down to the panchayat and taluka levels. We have whole teams of people who will teach digital technology to people. It is a complete campaign in which we want to instil a sense of pride in going digital,” said Kant, adding that India has a total of 350 million smart phones through which several of these e-payment options can be exercised.
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According to Niti Aayog sources, the training module lasting over two sessions will teach five alternate digital payment modes — cards, payments over Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) or mobile phone networks, Aadhaar-enabled payment systems, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and through use of Point of Sale or card swiping machines. The training module also talks about e-wallets.
However, the demonetisation rhetoric notwithstanding, a question from Minister of State for Health Faggan Singh Kulaste at the session at the health ministry on Monday evening left the four Niti trainers flummoxed. Citing his constituents in Chhattisgarh, many of whom are tribals who cannot afford smartphones, Kulaste asked what would a person without a smartphone do. The trainers had no reply.
“We started the training first with industry associations like CII, FICCI etc where we showed the presentation and explained how digital payment infrastructure can be developed. There is not much awareness which is why since the 26th of November we have started holding training sessions in every ministry. Depending on the size, we are either addressing all or training some master trainers for further dissemination of the information,” explained a senior Niti Aayog official.
Of all the payment gateways that are being talked about in the presentation, UPI, the official said is something Niti has been working on for some time now and is the “future of digital payments.” It is an interface across banks and payment gateways where one unique identification number — it could be Aadhaar number or some other number — will suffice to make payments to any merchant.
“The training sessions are being conducted by our young professionals and advisers for respective ministries are coordinating the sessions. We are trying to reach all levels and also giving demonstrations with the machines. Yesterday we shared the presentations with the states and today the CEO is speaking to chief secretaries and finance secretaries on developing digital payment infrastructure,” said a Niti Aayog official.
In the health ministry, Monday’s session was compulsory for all officers of the rank of deputy secretaries, directors and above as the health minister himself was present. “Any failure to attend the above event would be viewed most seriously,” read the circular. All officers who attend the sessions have been asked to act as master trainers and train at least 30 employees each.