Digital Payments – A Time and Money Saving Platform

The Government of India has been taking several measures to promote and encourage digital payments in the country. As part of the ‘Digital India’ campaign, the government aims to create a ‘digitally empowered’ economy that is ‘Faceless, Paperless, Cashless’. There are various types and modes of digital payments. Some of these include the use of debit/credit cards, internet banking, mobile wallets, digital payment apps, Unified Payments Interface ( UPI ) service, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Bank prepaid cards, mobile banking, etc.

Digital payment methods are often easy to make, more convenient and provide customers the flexibility to make payments from anywhere and at anytime. These are a good alternative to traditional methods of payment and speeden up transaction cycles. Post demonetization, people slowly started embracing digital payments and even small time merchants and shop owners started accepting payments through the digital mode.

What is a Digital Payment

To put it in simple words, a digital payment occurs when goods or services are purchased through the use of various electronic mediums. There is no use of cash or cheques in this type of payment method.

What is a Cashless Economy

In a cashless economy, all transactions are carried out using different types of payment methods and this does not involve the physical use of money for the purchase of various goods and services.

10 Types of Digital Payment Methods in India

  1. Banking cards
  2. USSD
  3. Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS)
  4. UPI
  5. Mobile Wallets
  6. Bank pre-paid cards
  7. Point of Sale (PoS)
  8. Internet Banking
  9. Mobile Banking
  10. Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app

1. Banking cards: Cards are among the most widely used payment methods and come with various features and benefits such as security of payments, convenience, etc. The main advantage of debit/credit or prepaid banking cards is that they can be used to make other types of digital payments. For example, customers can store card information in digital payment apps or mobile wallets to make a cashless payment. Some of the most reputed and well-known card payment systems are Visa, Rupay and MasterCard, among others. Banking cards can be used for online purchases, in digital payment apps, PoS machines, online transactions, etc.

How to get Banking cards?

  • Apply with your respective bank and provide Know Your Customer (KYC) details
  • The card will get activated within a week and you will be allotted a 4-digit pin, which can be used for all transactions

2. USSD: Another type of digital payment method, *99#, can be used to carry out mobile transactions without downloading any app. These types of payments can also be made with no mobile data facility. This facility is backed by the USSD along with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). The main aim of this type of digital payment service is to create an environment of inclusion among the underserved sections of society and integrate them into mainstream banking. This service can be used to initiate fund transfers, get a look at bank statements and make balance queries. Another advantage of this type of payment system is that it is also available in Hindi.

How to Use *99#?

  • This service can be used by dialling *99#, after which the customer can interact with an interactive voice menu through their mobile screen.
  • To use the service the mobile number of the customer should be the same as the one linked to the bank account
  • The next step is to register for USSD, MMID (Mobile Number Identifier) and MPIN

3. AEPS: Expanded as Aadhaar Enabled Payment System, AEPS, can be used for all banking transactions such as balance enquiry, cash withdrawal, cash deposit, payment transactions, Aadhaar to Aadhaar fund transfers, etc. All transactions are carried out through a banking correspondent based on Aadhaar verification. There is no need to physically visit a branch, provide debit or credit cards, or even make a signature on a document. This service can only be availed if your Aadhaar number is registered with the bank where you hold an account. This is another initiative taken by the NPCI to promote digital payments in the country.

How to use AEPS?

  • It is very simple to use AEPs, all you need to do is to provide the accurate Aadhaar number and the payment will be successfully made to the concerned merchant

4. UPI: UPI is a type of interoperable payment system through which any customer holding any bank account can send and receive money through a UPI-based app. The service allows a user to link more than one bank account on a UPI app on their smartphone to seamlessly initiate fund transfers and make collect requests on a 24/7 basis and on all 365 days a year.

The main advantage of UPI is that it enables users to transfer money without bank details. All you need is a Virtual Payment Address (VPA). There are many UPI apps in the market and it is available on both Android and iOS platforms. To use the service one should have a valid bank account and a registered mobile number, which is linked to the same bank account. There are no transaction charges for using UPI. Through this, a customer can send and receive money and make balance inquiries.

  1. How are digital payments better than cash?Ans: Digital payments are much easier and safer than cash payments. They are much more convenient than cash payments as well. Since they are digital, you do not have to carry cash as well.
  2. What are the different security requirements of digital payments?Ans: The different security requirements of digital payments are mentioned below:
    • Confidentiality
    • Integrity
    • Authentication
    • Availability
    • Authorization
    • Non-repudiation
  3. What are the objectives of digital transactions?Ans: The main objectives of digital transactions are to reduce the costs and risks of handling cash and to increase the ease of conducting transactions.
  4. How do digital payments work?Ans: Payments that are done over mobile channels and the internet are digital payments. Digital payments can also be defined as any payments that are done online via the internet or mobile-enabled services.
  5. How are digital payments important?Ans: Since digital payments reduce the costs of providing poor people with financial services, they have become a vital tool in improving financial inclusion. The convenience and safety of using insurance, payments, and savings products also increase by using digital payments.

How to use UPI?

  • Download the app on Android or iOS platform
  • Register for the service by providing bank account details
  • Create a VPA, get an MPIN

5. Mobile Wallets: A mobile wallet is a type of virtual wallet service that can be used by downloading an app. The digital or mobile wallet stores bank account or debit/credit card information or bank account information in an encoded format to allow secure payments. One can also add money to a mobile wallet and use the same to make payments and purchase goods and services. This eliminated the need to use credit/debit cards or remember the CVV or 4-digit pin. Many banks in the country have launched e-wallet services and apart from banks, there are also many private players. Some of the mobile wallet apps in the market are Paytm, Mobikwik, Freecharge, etc. The various services offered by mobile wallets include sending and receiving money, making payments to merchants, online purchases, etc. Some mobile wallets may charge a certain transaction fee for the services offered.

How to use a mobile wallet?

  • Download the app
  • Register for the service by following instructions and providing all details
  • Load money

6. Bank pre-paid cards: A prepaid card is a type of payment instrument on to which you load money to make purchases. The type of card may not be linked to the bank account of the customer. However, a debit card issued by the bank is linked with the bank account of the customer.

How to Use a Prepaid Card?

  • Apply for the card
  • Get pin
  • Load money from your bank account/debit card

7. PoS terminals: Traditionally, PoS terminals referred to those that were installed at all stores where purchases were made by customers using credit/debit cards. It is usually a hand held device that reads banking cards. However, with digitization the scope of PoS is expanding and this service is also available on mobile platforms and through internet browsers. There are different types of PoS terminals such as Physical PoS, Mobile PoS and Virtual PoS. Physical PoS terminals are the ones that are kept at shops and stores. On the other hand, mobile PoS terminals work through a tablet or smartphone. This is advantageous for small time business owners as they do not have to invest in expensive electronic registers. Virtual PoS systems use web-based applications to process payments.

8. Internet Banking: Internet banking refers to the process of carrying out banking transactions online. These may include many services such as transferring funds, opening a new fixed or recurring deposit, closing an account, etc. Internet banking is also referred to as e-banking or virtual banking. Internet banking is usually used to make online fund transfers via  NEFT, RTGS, or IMPS. Banks offer customers all types of banking services through their website and a customer can log into his/her account by using a username and password. Unlike visiting a physical bank, there are to time restrictions for internet banking services and they can be availed at any time and on all 365 days in a year. There is a wide scope for internet banking services.

9. Mobile Banking: Mobile banking is referred to the process of carrying out financial transactions/banking transactions through a smartphone. The scope of mobile banking is only expanding with the introduction of many mobile wallets, digital payment apps and other services like the UPI. Many banks have their own apps and customers can download the same to carry out banking transactions at the click of a button. Mobile banking is a wide term used for the extensive range or umbrella of services that can be availed under this.

10. Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app: The BHIM app allows users to make payments using the UPI application. This also works in collaboration with UPI and transactions can be carried out using a VPA. One can link his/her bank account with the BHIM interface easily. It is also possible to link multiple bank accounts. The BHIM app can be used by anyone who has a mobile number, debit card and a valid bank account. Money can be sent to different bank accounts, virtual addresses or to an Aadhaar number. There are also many banks that have collaborated with the NPCI and BHIM to allow customers to use this interface.

How to Use BHIM App?

  • Download and install the BHIM app
  • Choose a language
  • Register for the service by providing mobile number linked to bank account
  • Add bank-related information and set up a UPI PIN by following the given instructions

Benefits of Digital Payments

  • Faster, easier, more convenient: Perhaps, one of the biggest advantages of cashless payments is that it speeds up the payment process and there is no need to fill in lengthy information. There is no need to stand in a line to withdraw money from an ATM or carry cards in the wallet. Also, with the move to digital, banking services will be available to customers on a 24/7 basis and on all days of a year, including bank holidays. Many services like digital wallets, UPI, etc, work on this basis.
  • Economical and less transaction fee: There are many payment apps and mobile wallets that do not charge any kind of service fee or processing fee for the service provided. The UPI interface is one such example, where services can be utilized by the customer free of cost. Various digital payments systems are bringing down costs.
  • Waivers, discounts and cashbacks: There are many rewards and discounts offered to customers using digital payment apps and mobile wallets. There are attractive cash back offers given by many digital payment banks. This comes as boon to customers and also acts a motivational factor to go cashless.
  • Digital record of transactions: One of the other benefits of going digital is that all transaction records can be maintained. Customers can track each and every transaction that is made, no matter how small the transaction amount this.
  • One stop solution for paying bills: Many digital wallets and payment apps have become a convenient platform for paying utility bills. Be it mobile phone bills, internet or electricity bills, all such utility bills can be paid through a single app without any hassle.
  • Helps keep black money under control: Digital transactions will help the government keep a track of things and it will help eliminate the circulation of black money and counterfeit notes in the long run. Apart from this, this may also give a boost to the economy as the cost of minting currency also goes down.

Digital payments are slowly gaining popularity in India and there are many apps that are being launched in this sector. It has become a hassle-free and secure way to make payments.

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