CSC eGovernance gets RBI nod to launch e-payment service
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New Delhi: A government-owned unit has received a licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to offer online billing services through state-run Common Service Centres as part of an effort to expand digital services to villages.
The licence given to CSC eGovernance Services India Ltd’s will allow villagers to pay their electricity and water bills as well as get phone top-up recharges at a single point. The services will be offered under the centralized Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been striving to provide basic services throught the Internet to increase transparency in payments. The intent is also to expand access to basic public services to poor people living in remote villages.
The Common Service Centres (CSCs), launched under the previous United Progressive Alliance government, provide services in rural areas such as generating Aadhaar cards, booking railway e-tickets and opening bank accounts.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister of communications and information technology, said the government would give priority to linking CSCs with the national optical fibre network that aims to provide broadband connectivity to 250,000 gram panchayats or village councils.
The government had opened 170,000 CSCs as of May 2016. It aims to increase the number to 250,000 by December 2016.
“They (CSCs) are giving digital delivery of services, they are doing e-commerce, they are making passports, they are making Aadhaar cards, they are operating Jan Dhan accounts, now they become the payment gateway also,” Prasad said.
Prasad didn’t elaborate on the cost structure of the service.
“It is a welcome step as the possibility of leakage in transactions will further reduce,” said Shaibal Gupta, member-secretary of Asian Development Research Institute, adding that it will also help develop and consolidate the rural cashless payments market.
Other applicants that have already received approvals from RBI include Oxigen Services India Pvt. Ltd, BillDesk, TechProcess Payment Services Ltd and Paytm.
The service, which is expected to be rolled out in three months, comes at a time when mobile payment services providers such as MobiKwik and Paytm are also trying to expand in the underserved rural market.
CSCs have generated 392,000 transactions for Indian Railways’ online ticketing service in 2016, a big jump from just 63,000 in 2015. “It will definitely give competition to other players, but in a market that is still untapped, each of the players can still push the envelope,” said Shree Parthasarathy, partner at Deloitte India.