Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Friday said in a couple of years India will lead the way in digital financial inclusion. Speaking at a panel discussion on Transforming India through digital financial inclusion, Gates, in association with NASSCOM, said they were helping the government implement its projects in sector. “The results will be magical once critical mass is achieved.”
Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said the idea was to create a plug-and-play platform for the apps – essentially the direct benefits given to citizens. He said the Indian model is different from the acclaimed Kenya model as it was based on open architecture and allows interoperability.
“We have made it channel neutral. Whenever the ultimate transactions happens is where the commission is paid out. And there is also the Right incentive for consumer choice,” the minister said. He said while 90 per cent of NREGA payments are already going through bank accounts, the government was now working on health insurance and crop insurance.
TRAI chairman R S Sharma said it was wrong to assume that technology is the barrier for Indian consumers. “Cost is the real barrier. No one is going to pay Rs 20 cost for a Rs 100 transaction. The cost of transactions has to come down for micro transactions,” he said, adding that it has to become as easy as making a phone call.
Gates said while everyone associates his foundation with work in the health sector, few knew that they have been working on financial inclusion for over eight years and started with work on micro finance. Advocating cashless transactions, he said: “When there is need for face-to-face transaction it means cost would be too large.”
Sinha said the architecture was in place for India to become a cashless society, but people’s behaviour will take time to change. “The consumer will decide when that will happen.”
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