Starting New Year, over a million street vendors across India will accept and make payments digitally, having come on board for the ‘Main Bhi Digital (me too digital)’ drive designed by the Centre for them.
The drive has been prompted by the success of the Prime Minister Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PMSVANidhi) scheme, launched in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown, to provide vendors microcredit. As part of the new drive, between
January 4 and 22, over 10 lakh street vendors across the country who have availed of the Rs 10,000 loan will be trained in using digital payments.
As per official data, 12 lakh street vendors have already availed of the loan while the total number of applicants has crossed 30 lakh — or half the estimated number of street vendors. Over 16.65 lakh applications have already been sanctioned by partner banks.
Officials underlined that the unique aspect of the new drive was that the vendors would be able to not just receive payments digitally but also pay for material they procure from sellers using unique QR codes. The mobile phones of the vendors will be equipped with the software needed for the transactions, and training provided to them on safe and secure payments.
“Available data show that only 20 per cent of the beneficiaries are digitally enabled. Even among those who accept payments digitally, not all use digital payments to purchase material,” a senior official said.
Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for street vendors as they were among the hardest hit by the lockdown, the PMSVANidhi scheme of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs entitles them to Rs 10,000 interest-free loan as working capital to restart their businesses. Government data show that around 46 per cent of the street vendors who have applied for the loan so far are fruit and vegetable sellers, while some 21 per cent sell fast food. Over 41 per cent are women.
Encouraged by the response to PMSVANidhi, the government has also launched its first-ever official socio-economic survey of vendors, to bring them under schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Jan-Dhan Yojana, Building and Other Construction Workers Act, Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Matri Vandana Yojana, and others.