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Rail Tickets, Petrol, Insurance to Cost Less in Big Digital Push: Jaitley

The government of India had announced some measures yesterday to promote digital transactions as a part of a campaign to encourage people to digital, a month after the shock culling of high-value bank bills caused a severe cash crunch.

Signaling that using money is going to be costlier, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley came up with various encouragements ranging from fuel discounts, highway tolls and railway tickets to cheaper insurance cover.

The Government smashed opposition parties for its move on demonetization and it has repeatedly said that the decision was necessary to reduce black money and fake currency.

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In recent weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also praised the benefits of a cashless society, giving examples of beggars using ATMs and also said that it might give some pain for the people due to the shortage of cash but in the long run it will benefit the country.

Jaitley said, “Before November 8, we were using more cash rather than digital transactions. There is a cost of managing in cash and excessive money can lead to misuses”.

Yesterday, Finance Ministry had announced that there would be no service tax on card transactions up to Rs 2,000. Just two months ahead of the Union Budget, Jaitley said petrol and diesel worth Rs 1800 crore was sold in a day, of which of about 20% is already being paid digitally.

After the demonetization had announced the figure went up to 40% in one month and the cash transaction of Rs 360 crore per day has got shifted to cashless methods.

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From January 1, 2017, consumers who pay digitally for their monthly or seasonal tickets suburban trains will also pay less. Apart from that, free accidental insurance cover of up to Rs 10 lakh will be provided to all those railway passengers buying their tickets online.

Not only this, if they make digital payments for all paid service of the railways includes catering, accommodation, retiring rooms among other things then they will be offered a discount of 5%.

The other big announcements include two point of Sale (PoS) machines each for one lakh villages with a population of less than 10,000.


Indian Railways to go Cashless for Ticket Bookings

Indian Railways is likely to introduce digital ticket booking system across its offline counters as the government is encouraging every industry to go digital and ditch hard cash transactions. It is likely to tie up with the banks named State Bank of India and ICICI for providing a hassle-free payment gateway for the passengers by introducing PoS (Point of Scale) terminals.

As per the reports, Indian Railways are in talks with the SBI and ICICI banks and other leading banks for introducing 15,000 PoS machines for booking tickets at reservation counters. The officials are planning to implement this service by the end of 15th December 2016.

Up to now, Indian Railways didn’t provide the option to pay via card at ticket booking counters and users can book tickets digitally only at IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation) website. Currently, the railways don’t provide any PoS service for credit and debit card payments.

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“Already we have been offering cashless ticketing options through the IRCTC website. More than 58 percent of the train accommodation board through e-ticketing. Since the remaining load is not too much, railways going cashless are viable,” said a Railway official.

In a bid to help the passengers instead standing in long queues and waiting for the ticket booking, Indian Railways has decided to allow passengers to book unreserved tickets at many railway stations. This mobile ticketing facility is now available at few cities namely Mumbai, Secunderabad, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata.

“We have around 12,000 ticket counters. All of them would be equipped with one or more POS machines depending on the daily transactions. Managing cash is also an enormous task for our staff. It would be beneficial for them as well if we could have enough swipe machines,” a rail board official mentioned.

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Initially, this digital cashless ticketing is going to introduce in urban areas, and it would be done phase wise throughout the country. “In places like Mumbai, where there’s a massive sale of monthly passes, we would have POS machines installed immediately. SBI has promised to provide 1,000 machines,” said by the official.