FM Nirmala Sitharaman: Not the Right Time to Make Digital Payments Chargeable

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government doesn’t want to charge for digital payments. Ms. Sitharaman said Digital payments are a public good. People should have free access to it to make India’s digital economy attractive. Digitization also improves transparency.

Ms. Sitharaman’s comments came as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) sought public opinion on planned changes to the payments system, including fees on Unified Payments Interface transactions (UPI).

RBI’s payment system activities focus on reducing systemic, procedural, and revenue-related frictions. Customers worry about excessive and opaque fees, even though there are many middlemen in the payments chain. Payment service charges should be competitive and affordable for users, while providing an appropriate revenue stream for intermediaries. It was deemed beneficial to analyse payment system fees by highlighting distinct dimensions and soliciting stakeholder input.

RBI operates RTGS and NEFT in India. NPCI, a bank-supported non-profit, owns and operates IMPS, RuPay, UPI, etc. Card networks, PPI issuers, etc. are profit-maximizing private businesses.

July had the most digital transactions since 2016; UPI reported 6.28 billion transactions worth 10.62 trillion rupees (NPCI).

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