Digital mode of payment and Manipur

          THOUGH use of cash or currency is still the easiest and most-practiced form of transactions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be determined to transform the mode of payment through the digital system in his endeavour to put an effective curb on corruption. After the sudden announcement for the scrapping of high value currencies notes of Rs 1000 and Rs 500, the Central government’s thrust towards a transparent economy could be comprehended from the vigorous push for establishing a cashless or less-cash economy. Apart from spurring economic growth, the cashless economy drive is being seen as a deterrent against circulation of fake notes, terrorist financing and as an effective means to weed out black money from the system. No doubt, payment through cash continues to be popular because it is easy to use, does not require any additional machines for its storage and use, beyond a wallet or a safe, and the security or lack of it is evident immediately due to its touch and feel. In other words, simplicity and trust as to its acceptance make cash popular medium of payment to buy a product or service. As the cashless economy is turning out to be a nationwide exercise, Manipur too needs to make the right moves to gradually part ways with the traditional mode of payment. Inevitability of the state to get prepared for the transition could also be gauged from the Digi-Dhan Mela, which was held on Sunday at City Convention Centre with the objective to create awareness among public on digital mode of payment.

         Compared to vision of the Union government that minimal cash-based exchanges will be helpful in curbing black money and other illegal activities in case the Aadhaar-enabled payment systems get wide acceptance, in the context of some north eastern states, including Manipur, full compliance with the digital mode of transaction is bound to have drastic impact on unauthorised collection of heavy taxes by outlawed organisations, as the mechanism entails that every payment would be accounted for and linked to the bank accounts of both the providers and the recipients. Of the different armed outfits operating in the region, the new system of payment reliant on e-wallets, mobile banking and point of sale (PoS) machines, will have serious implications against the outlawed organisations whose perception on the ‘national struggle’ is based on the principle that all citizens have the obligation to fund the movement. Some of the hurdles that might slacken actual implementation of the digitalised payment in Manipur could be limited banking network or absence of basic facilities, the dominant features in rural areas. Such lack of requisite facilities, however, should not be the reason for the delay in joining the nationwide initiative for banking institutions could be instructed to expedite relevant measures for facilitating digital payments between merchants and consumers. Along with curbing corruption, digital mode of payment has the potential to ensure safe operation by transport workers on the two lifelines of Manipur, which have been virtually converted as ‘source of income’ for filling up their chests by some unlawful organisations.

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