On 22 June 2015, the Ministry of Finance issued draft proposals for facilitating electronic transaction in pursuance of the announcement made by the Finance Minister in his budget speech for the Union Budget 2015-2016 that:
“One way to curb the flow of black money is to discourage transactions in cash. Now that a majority of Indians has or can have, a RUPAY debit card. I therefore, propose to introduce soon several measures that will incentivize credit or debit card transactions and disincentivize cash transaction.”
Accordingly, the Ministry has issued draft proposals with the object of improving the ease of conducting transactions for an individual and for building a transaction history to enable improved credit access and financial inclusion. The draft proposals also aim to reduce risks and costs of carrying cash and costs of managing cash and also to reduce tax avoidance and impact of counterfeit money on the economy.
The measures proposed to promote wider adoption of electronic transactions are:
- To examine reduction in Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) which is presently 0.75% on Debit Card transactions upto Rs.2000 and 1% on all transactions above Rs.2000.
- To standardize/rationalize the inter-change fee on Debit/Credit Card transactions to encourage both issuing and acquiring banks to establish and utilize acceptance infrastructure.
- To provide tax benefits to merchants for accepting electronic payments.
- To provide tax benefits in terms of income tax rebates to consumers for paying a certain proportion of their expenditure through electronic means.
- To consider levying of a nominal cash handling charge on transactions greater than a specified level.
- To mandate settling of high value transactions of, say, more than Rs. 1 lakh, only by electronic means.
- At present, banks have to report the aggregate of all the payments made by a credit cardholder as one transaction, if such an amount is Rs. 2 lakhs in a year. To increase the ceiling value from Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 5 lakhs for facilitating high value transaction.
The draft proposals also provide among other things for the examination of removing the levy of the convenience fee/service charge/surcharge for making E-transactions (card payments) to essential commodities, utility service providers, petrol pumps, gas agencies, railway ticket counter/IRCTC etc. levied by the Government Departments/Central Public Sector Undertakings/Organizations. The Ministry also proposes to advise utility service providers to give a discount to users for small ticket payments through E-payments, on the lines of BSNL, which provides an incentive of 1 per cent of the billed amount if the payment is done through electronic mode.
– Ministry of Finance