Vizag aims to be the first cashless city in India with Visa collaboration

BENGALURU: Operationalizing the Feb 2017 MoU to transform Vizag into a less-cash city, Fintech Valley Vizag, an initiative by Government of Andhra Pradesh and payment technology giant, Visa organized a round-table discussion to dispel the myths associated with digital payments.

In a comprehensive presentation made at the launch of the program, five key benefits of digital payments were discussed. It highlighted that the gross cost of cash is 2% of GDP, and the shadow economy costs India 3.2% of GDP in foregone tax revenues. It dwelled upon the benefits provided by digital payments especially to low income consumers as developing a digital footprint would help them reduce their access to and cost of capital.

Third, it pointed to innovations such as BharatQR that have significantly lowered acceptance infrastructure costs for merchants and enabled customers to adopt “push payments” whereby a customer initiates a transaction without sharing any information with the merchant, while the merchant receives an instant SMS alert on receipt of payment.

In addition, it pointed to the fact that most players in the ecosystem adhere to world-class safety and security standards to ensure the customers interests are protected and to the significant innovations underway.

Nara Lokesh, Minister of IT, Government of Andhra Pradesh, said “The Andhra Pradesh Government has always been at the forefront of digital innovations. Our partnership with Visa will strengthen the foundation in making Vizag as India’s FinTech Valley and help in the transition of a less–cash society. As the state, we will lead by example and facilitate digital payment options for all citizens to government payments – be it for utilities, transit, municipal taxes or user charges. While we have garnered positive support from various government bodies to adopt digital payments, we would continue to encourage citizens and merchants to embrace digital payments and join us in this transition.”

J A Chowdary, Special Chief Secretary and IT Advisor to Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, said, “The activation of our MoU with Visa shows our commitment towards making Andhra Pradesh a leader in fintech ecosystem through Fintech Valley Vizag. This initiative in Vizag will help us learn a lot about what works best to enable digital payments, with a view to scale them. We look forward to adopting an eco-system approach to identify opportunities for potential innovations. Use cases for driving less cash would be defined and prioritized based on economic value and ease of implementation.

“The round-table discussion that was moderated by G Padmanabhan, Sr Advisor to Visa included panelists like, J A Chowdary, Special Chief Secretary and IT Advisor to Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh; K Vijayanand, Principal Secretary – Information Technology; Pravin Kumar, District Collector, Vizag; Mani Palvesan, Chief General Manager – State Bank of India ;  M.N. Sudhakar, General Manager Andhra Bank and Sangram Singh, Executive Vice President, Axis Bank.

The panel focused on the role digital payments plays in driving financial inclusion, contributing to economic growth, and the policy levers required to scale acceptance, adoption and access to digital payments.

During the course of the discussion, Pravin Kumar, District Collector, Vizag said, “The basic aim to going digital – is to have low cost & affordable payments technology, that is inclusive, reliable and is secure to facilitate transparency. Given the fact that Vizag is a part of the 100 smart cities project, we are glad that it has been chosen as a trailblazer to fulfill this aim.” He noted on how digitization has borne fruits not only in customer service and payments but across every area of the business – sales, operations, fulfillment and distribution. “This project has the potential to truly transform Vizag into a future ready city in a short span of time. Seamless integration of digital payments into public services can go a long way in promoting a convenient, transparent and secure ecosystem to conduct business. We are excited to be partnering with the Government of Andhra Pradesh in this one of a kind project,” said T R Ramachandran, Visa’s Group Country Manager for India & South Asia. Delighted on this collaboration, K Vijayanand, Chairman and Managing Director, Principal Secretary – Information Technology said, “The state Government has taken major leaps in using digital methods to improve governance. I look forward to the Government embarking on this exciting journey to make Vizag less-cash in partnership with Visa, which has an experience of rolling out innovative, secure, and user friendly interoperable payment solutions across the world.”

Visa will also work with partner organizations to support capability-building efforts for various stakeholders associated with this effort. By encouraging the use of electronic payments in the city, with a special focus to include traditionally underserved segments, the event concluded by promising to make Vizag more financially inclusive and accepting of the digital future.

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