Debit card charges waived till 31 Dec; steps to help farmers

Charges on the use of debit cards have been waived till 31 December by service providers, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das told the media today, as he outlined the government's steps to mitigate the hardships caused by the demonetisation of old Rs1,000 and Rs500 notes.

For benefit of farmers, NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture And Rural Development) has sanctioned Rs21,000 crore for rural areas. This will enable district cooperative banks to pass the money to primary agro societies and will help farmers for the current Rabi season, he said.

To ensure that farmers get credit, the banks, NABARD, and the Reserve Bank of India will make cash available to districts, he said.

As far as RUPAY cards are concerned, all switching charges and other charges have been waived till 31 December.

Indian Railways has also agreed to waive all service charges on online booking of rail tickets. This is also with the aim to encourage people to migrate to digital transactions, he said.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has also reduced USSD charges from Rs1.50 to 50 paise for feature phones (not smartphones) - as feature phones still comprise over 65 per cent of all mobile phones in India (See: TRAI slashes USSD-based mobile transaction rates).

The government will also promote digital transactions at toll plazas. The ministry of road transport has told manufacturers to include ETC complaint RFID facility in all new cars.

All new government organisations and public sector facilities have been asked to use only epayments - that is via card or digital platforms, Aadhar enabled payments, etc.

According to RBI, around 80,000 ATMs out two lakh ATMs in the county have been recalibrated with new notes, and it is just a matter of few days before money is available to all.

The RBI has doubled the monthly limit for mobile wallets to Rs 20,000.

More than Rs6 lakh crore has been deposited in banks after the old notes were scrapped on 8 November, the government has told the Supreme Court.

It also said there has been a big surge in digital use of money transactions.