RBI Plans a Digital Payments Index

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is poised to launch by July 2020 a Digital Payments Index (DPI) to gauge the impact and reach of digital payments in rural, urban, and semi-urban areas. As a part of RBI’s Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies, the DPI will be based on various parameters (viz. the level of rural penetration and innovation in the present modes and channels) to reflect with finesse the penetration and deepening of various digital payment modes.

The RBI is also intending via its DPI exercise to comprehend in detail the impact of its policy decisions on the digital payments market. By ‘policy decisions’ what is meant to be conveyed is such decisions as the waiving of Merchant Discount Rate (MDR – the fees paid by a merchant to a bank for accepting payment from their customers through cards or the Unified Payments Interface (UPI)) on UPI transactions. In the recently held Union Budget 2020 it was announced that no charges shall now onwards be levied on UPI and RuPay transactions, and that MDR might also get scrapped on all of the transactions initiated via debit cards.

With the DPI scoring analysis, consumers and various stakeholders will be able to analyse developments of the local area in terms of infrastructure, access, demographic, and acceptance concerning growth in relation to broader domestic and global digital payments standards. DPI is also expected to steer the financial inclusion agenda.

The RBI considered development of a DPI owing to the stupendous growth recorded by the digital payments industry in India in the recent years. As reported by Inc42, in regards to the volume of total digital transactions, RBI numbers state that a growth rate of 58.8% in 2018-19 was recorded. The 2017-18 transactional volume was 50.4%. In value terms, digital transactions soared by 19.5% in 2018-19, as against 22.2% in 2017-18.

Throwing light on the preceding developments revolving around the digital payments space, it’s worth mentioning that the RBI, in January 2019, constituted a five-member Digital Payments Committee with Nandan Nilekani as its head. The “High-Level Committee for Deepening of Digital Payments” had as its objective to encourage digitisation of payments and boost financial inclusion. Preceding to this development, the NITI Aayog in its report titled, Digital Payments – Trends, Issues and Opportunities, released in August 2018, had projected the industry to grow $1 trillion by 2023.However, on the flipside, the incumbent government should also now act upon considering submission of a draft Bill on Payments Regulatory Board (as was recommended by the panel headed by Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg – awaited since Q4 2018) for Cabinet approval. Given that UPI recorded 955 million transactions valued at Rs. 1, 61,456.56 crore in September 2019, it’s a high-time time now that an independent PRB gets established to streamline the payments industry in India. Whereas, per the reports by Statista, in India, the total transaction value in the Digital Payments segment amounts to US$81,197m in 2020. It should also be noted that Google has recently expressed its recommendation for the US Federal Reserve to ‘replicate’ India’s UPI model for its proposed interbank real-time-gross settlement (RTGS) service. The DPI is set to strengthen India’s position of being a globally advanced digital payments leader.

Decoding FASTag: How National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) Works?

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has built the RFID-enabled National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) program poised to fulfil the electronic tolling needs of the transport market of India. For the same objective, NPCI now offers a national interoperable toll-payment solution that also inculcates within its scope the offering of clearinghouse services for settlement of disputes. Within its spectrum of offering ‘Interoperability’ (applied to NETC system), it includes a common set of procedures, business rules and technical specifications allowing a customer to utilise their FASTag as a payment mode on either of the toll plazas, regardless of the specifics of the acquirer of the toll plaza.

The various objectives of NETC FASTag are: i. creating a compatible and interoperable toll-collection ecosystem to use nationally. ii. through a simple and robust framework, increase transparency and efficiency in transaction processing. iii. achieving the sub-goals of the Government of India of electronification of retail payments, reducing air pollution via decreased toll plaza congestion, plummeting fuel consumption and promoting cashless transactions, enhancing audit control via user account centralisation

NETC – the technical ecosystem on which the FASTag is based – supports multiple issuers and acquirers authorised for the NETC program. The transaction request from the Toll Plaza is sent to the Acquiring System for transactional validation, and it then moves further so as to finally reach the NETC Switch. The NPCI routes these transactions to the relevant Issuer Bank for debiting the tag-holder account. During the entire process, a particular transaction travels through an 8-step (LEGs) process.

The NETC transaction process flow emanates at the Toll Plaza System (capturing the FASTag data, viz. Tag ID, TID, Vehicle Class, etc.) and travels through the Acquirer Bank for processing, which then sends a request to the Online Switch & Mapper (i.e., the NETC validation mechanism that responds with such details as Vehicle class, VRN, Tag Status, etc. – upon an absence of the Tag ID in NETC Mapper, a response is issued stating that the Tag ID isn’t registered). Following the receipt of a Tag ID validation from the NETC Mapper, the acquirer host calculates the relevant toll fare and emanates a debit request to the NETC system. Then the NETC system switches the debit request to the relevant issuer bank for debiting the customer account.

The Issuer host then debits the linked tag holder account and sends an SMS alert to the tag holder. It also sends the response message to the NETC system. Upon failing to send the response within the defined TAT (Turn-Around-Time), the transaction is considered as Deemed Accepted. The response is then notified to the acquirer host for notifying the respective toll plaza system.

Examining the Nuances of Credit Scores & Credit Risk in India

What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is essentially a determination of the capacity of an individual to repay the borrowed sum of money on credit. This statistic primarily mirrors the creditworthiness of a person wanting to access credit in the future. The credit rating agencies, or the Credit Information Companies (CICs), viz. Equifax (ECIS), CRIF High Mark, CIBIL TransUnion—the first CIC in India, and Experian, generally assimilate the required data on various determinants such as the duration of the credit subscription, repayment history, credit inquiry, etc., to determine the credit score statistic of the credit-seeking applicant. Continue reading “Examining the Nuances of Credit Scores & Credit Risk in India”

The What, Why, & How of the Gig Economy Credit in India

Introduction to the Gig Economy

The “Gig Economy” primarily relates to temporary, flexible jobs offered by companies that usually hire independent contractors and freelancers as against regular onsite employees. The instability and ambiguities introduced by the events of corporate layoffs and the practice of services’ offshoring have diminished regular employment avenues.

Continue reading “The What, Why, & How of the Gig Economy Credit in India”

Microfinance & Financial Inclusion: Servicing the Marginalised India

‘‘The Poor stay poor, not because they are lazy but because they have no access to capital.” – Laureate Milton Friedman

Introduction to Microfinance

Microfinance (erstwhile microcredit) is a financial service offering loans, savings, and insurance to entrepreneurs and small enterprises that lack proper access to banks or investors. The primary objective of microfinance is to make available to the underserved individuals (since they lack the credit or resources to subscribe to a regular bank loan) the required money so as to invest in their nascent business projects. Continue reading “Microfinance & Financial Inclusion: Servicing the Marginalised India”

Freelance Industry on the Rise

Freelancing was an option earlier to merely make a living without getting into something permanent but now it is seen as a choice by millions across the world for its various boons.

Freelancing has been fostered exponentially over the last decade due to technological advancement, worker’s need for flexibility and being able to work remotely, and the innumerable innovative job opportunities created by the companies to get better quality work and even then save money. Continue reading “Freelance Industry on the Rise”

Why CIBIL score is important?

Before we get into the why, what is a CIBIL score?

To put in layman’s language, it is nothing but a 3 digit number between 300 to 900 decided by CIBIL, a Credit Information company based on all your credit-related activity within the financial system. This number acts as the first impression for the lender, the higher the score, the better the chances of the loan/credit card being approved. Hence, a CIBIL score is a clear indication to a bank about your financial history on which your credit-worthiness is decided. Continue reading “Why CIBIL score is important?”

Empowering The Gig Economy: All You Need To Know

The expression “gig economy” alludes to a general workforce condition in which here and now commitment, impermanent contracts, and independent contracting is ordinary. It’s additionally alluded to as the “specialist economy,” “agile workforce,” “sharing economy,” or “independent workforce.” You may believe it’s a trendy expression, and you’d be correct, yet the boundless development of new businesses supporting the gig economy (and the number of laborers utilizing them) is a certain sign that the idea of work as we know it is changing. Continue reading “Empowering The Gig Economy: All You Need To Know”

Financial Inclusion: All you need to know

Financial inclusion is where people and organizations approach valuable and moderate money related items and services that address their requirements which are conveyed in a mindful and credible way. Financial inclusion is characterized by the accessibility and fairness of chances to get money-related services. The accessibility of monetary administrations that meet the particular needs of a user without any discrimination is a key goal of Financial Inclusion. Continue reading “Financial Inclusion: All you need to know”