Dharmendra Pradhan hits campaign trail to push cashless payments

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NEW DELHI: Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan has hit a campaign trail, using petrol pumps and cooking gas dealerships of state-run fuel retailers as government’s public interface, to wean people away from cash and encourage cashless payment systems.

On Saturday, Pradhan visited petrol pumps of Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum in the Capital to launch a month-long programme to familiarise consumers with e-payment systems such as mobile walletes etc, besides debit and credit cards. He is scheduled to visit fuel stations of IndianOil Corporation and Indraprastha Gas Ltd on Sunday to add fuel to the campaign through direct interaction with consumers.

“The Prime Minister has launched a major economic and social reform (by taking on black money through demonetisation and promoting less-cash financial environment)… petrol pumps and LPG dealerships touch people’s lives in every corner of the country. In that sense, these are the government’s public touch points and will run the campaign for a month to spread awareness about e-payment methods,” Pradhan told TOI after launching the campaign.

He said altogether 53,077 petrol pumps across the country have installed infrastructure to accept not just credit and debit cards but e-wallets and mobile wallets as an alternative to cash. During this period, petrol pumps will put up kiosks to help not just fuel consumers but any person who needs assistance with using e-payment solutions. In the second phase, the facility will be extended to 18,000 LPG distributing gas agencies and also CNG pumps.

“At present, a consumer usually draws cash from an ATM (automated teller machine) we then buy fuel at pump or pay for LPG. Through this campaign we are trying to tell them how easy it is to save time and effort by using card or other e-payments mechanisms. Petrol pumps transact Rs 2,000 crore a day of fuel and even if a small percentage of this can be done in digital mode, it will be a huge thing,” he said.

Also, over 4,800 petrol pumps across the country are dispensing Rs 2,000 per card a day through POS (point of sale or card-swipe) machine and have dispensed Rs 65 crore in the past two weeks. Pradhan said using digital payment is not just safe but very convenient mode that helps check tax evasion and generation of black money.

“We have covered two-thirds of the outlets in all capitals and major towns with digital payment solutions. Attempt is to reach as many points as possible quickly. Besides, 4,700 outlets now accept e-wallets and mobile wallets, he said, adding 1,000 to 1,200 outlets are being added to the service every second day.