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Discount for petrol, life insurance in push for digital payments



The government on Thursday announced a host of measures to encourage digital transactions including discounts on petrol and diesel purchases, suburban railway tickets and insurance policies from state owned insurance companies purchased through electronic means.

It also proposes to waive off service tax on digital payments amounting to less than Rs2,000. Also, central government departments and central public sector undertakings will bear the cost of the transaction fees and merchant discount rates (MDR) charges that are levied on customers.
There is no end date for these incentives—that will be notified over the next few days— as of now, the cost of which will be borne by the respective government departments.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley said there has been a movement towards digital transactions from cash transactions since the government announced its decision to cancel the legal tender of the Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes.

“This switch over is visible in this last one month. The government wants to increase the pace of this switch over,” he said at a press conference.

“We are using excessive amount of cash and a very limited amount of digital transactions. There is a cost of transacting in cash. It has to be borne by the economy and also by the political system. They are visible and invisible costs. Excessive cash can lead to malpractices,” he said adding that inevitably it should also lead to transparency in political funding.
As per the government’s proposal, customers can avail a discount of 0.75% on purchase of fuel at petrol pumps through electronic means. This is expected to bring down the requirement of cash annually by Rs2 trillion.
Weekly and monthly passes purchased at suburban rail networks through electronic means will also get a discount of 0.5% discount. New insurance policies purchased from state owned insurers online will also receive a discount. While the discount will be 10% for purchase of non-life policies, it will be 8% for purchase of life insurance policies.
Further, online payments for services offered by the Indian railways like catering will also be eligible for a 5% discount.
Payments at toll plazas for fast tags and RIFD using digital payments will also receive a 10% discount.
Further to promote digital payments in rural areas, one lakh villages with a population of upto 10,000 will be provided with two point of sale machines each. This will be funded by the financial inclusion fund. Further, through Nabard, regional rural banks and cooperative banks will provide farmers with Rupay kisan cards to enable them to use such cards for online transactions.

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