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Fintech firms PayTM, PhonePe, BharatPe, Mswipe and Acerware have joined a program by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to drive digital onboarding of street vendors in India. The program, which falls under the PM SVANidhi scheme, is a 45 day special drive that aims to digitally onboard street vendors on the government’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform. The fintech firms have joined on a pro-bono basis.

The drive covers 223 cities in the country, and the government said it aims to onboard around 8,68,184 street vendors in these areas. “Digital Payment Aggregators will educate the street vendors about the benefits of digital payments such as convenience, increased operational efficiency, seamless transfer of funds, cost saving, transparency and security. They will also hand hold the street vendors by performing penny drop transactions and any further support that is required to accept/ pay digitally," the MeitY said in a press release.

The covid-19 pandemic has spurred a growth in digital payments in India. According to the government, BHIM UPI transactions rose from 99.95 crore transactions in April 2020 to 355.55 crore in August 2021. Onboarding street vendors onto the UPI platform will allow credit profiling of such vendors and bring a big part of India’s cash economy onto the more traceable digital space.

On August 27, the Reserve Bank of India  (RBI) had decided to extend the Payments Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) scheme, which has a corpus of Rs. 345 crore, to street vendors in tier 1 and tier 2 centres in the country. The PM Street Vendor’s AatmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SCANidhi) scheme aims to provide collateral free working capital loans of up to Rs. 10,000 and a tenure of one-year to these vendors.

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