Mandatory QR codes at commercial establishments to boost mobile wallets

Topics mobile wallets | Google

The government is contemplating making QR codes mandatory at all shops and commercial establishments. Photo: Shutterstock
In another boost to mobile wallet firms including Paytm, Freecharge, MobiKwik, as well as payments platforms such as Google Pay, BHIM UPI, and the much awaited Jio e-commerce platform, the government is contemplating making QR codes mandatory at all shops and commercial establishments.

If this move gets a final go-ahead then digital payments would be an integral part of all commercial establishments from mom and pop stores to large retail chains. According to sources, while the outline of enforcing the order has been finalised, most of the work in this regard would only happen post elections.

According to ministry sources, shopkeepers would have to put at least two or more different QR codes of various payments platforms, including the government’s UPI. “Users of BHIM UPI are quite high and many people already prefer using this as the way of making payments. We are sure that many of the shopkeepers would put the QR code of UPI,” said a senior official at IT Ministry.

According to recent RBI data close to Rs 16,000 crore of digital transactions happened in March this year. The government hopes that this move would be able to increase this number going forward.

While any implementation will obviously take place only once a new government is in place, senior officials suggested the move itself may need to be debated further.

"While we are looking at exponential growth in digital coverage nationwide, inter-ministerial panels to promote digitization in trade has pointed out the difficulties associated with the proposal. The logic behind forcing shop owners across vast rural geography to adopt a mechanism that has no infrastructure support has been questioned," an official with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) said.

There is currently no credible solution to the question of how the mandatory policy will be enforced, he added. The Department has recently been given the charge of enhancing retail trade in the country, and officials hinted further discussions on the matter would commence with industry stakeholders, post-May 23.

On the other hand, the Commerce and Industry Ministry has pushed for another proposal by the GST Council that has gathered dust for more than 18 months now - the proposed e-wallet mechanism to help exporters pay for goods and services tax (GST).

Initially announced in October 2017, the Finance Ministry has repeatedly opposed the move. However, the e-wallet has seen support from exporters, who claim it will benefit smaller businesses to tide over the liquidity crisis. That target was likely to be missed because a workable model of an online transaction platform was yet to be created, a Commerce Department official said. "Once that is done, it will have to be tested and that will take more than a month," he added.

The e-wallet is expected to ease the situation, with notional credits being assigned to each exporter’s account. These credits can be used to pay the GST and the amount in a wallet is replenished when exporters receive their refund.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel