From a cash-based economy, rural Karnataka may well be on the path to becoming a cashless one.
With the Modi government pushing for the cause of making the country a cashless economy, Karnataka parliamentarians and banks have taken up the initiative with the help of gram panchayats.
Udupi-Chikkamagalu MP, Shobha Karandlaje, who has adopted Udupi district, said that from a Re 1 confectionary to rice, all villagers must now pay with debit or credit cards, the Times of India reported.
Karandlaje told TOI that plans of making 158 panchayats in Udupi cashless have already been made and will be implemented soon. The plan will be piloted in Byndoor taluk and based on the response there, the plan will be implemented in other villages, the report added.
Banks have been roped in to help train panchayat officials with the usage of debit and credit cards and mobile wallets for the next three months. Vijaya Bank has volunteered to take up the initiative in eight villages in Mandya and four in Ramnagara, the report says.
Banks will initially install Point of Sale machines at a Digital Seva Kendra in all gram panchayats. Villagers will also be trained in the Aadhar-Enabled Payment Systems, Unified Payment Interface and USSD-based mobile banking on basic mobile phones, the report adds.
ATM kiosks and high speed WiFi facilities will also be set up by the banks. Account holders will be provided with debit and Rupay cards and vendors including petty shop owners and pavement vendors will be given swipe machines, the TOI report says.
The process of making rural areas go cashless is challenging due to lack of awareness about e-banking and mobile banking systems in these areas. Karandlaje told TOI that the plan was to make all villages go cashless within a month but due certain ground realities, the deadline has been extended to March 31.
She said all transactions, including payment of tax, water and power bills would done electronically after March 31 at panchayat offices. She said the process of providing swipe machines to all shopkeepers, petrol pump and gas agencies will also be taken up by banks.