RBI’s Big Push for Digital Payments: Extending PIDF Scheme till 2025

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently announced the extension of its Payments Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) scheme until December 31, 2025. This extension marks a significant move in the ongoing efforts to enhance the payment infrastructure across the country.

Originally launched in January 2021, the PIDF scheme had a three-year timeframe. Its primary objective was to foster the growth of payment acceptance infrastructure, focusing on tier-3 to tier-6 cities, the northeastern states, and the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The scheme aimed to facilitate the deployment of various payment acceptance mechanisms like physical Point of Sale (PoS) terminals, Quick Response (QR) codes, and other related technologies.

A notable aspect of this extension is the broadening of the scheme’s scope. Along with the existing payment acceptance devices, the RBI has now included soundbox devices and Aadhaar-enabled biometric devices under the umbrella of eligible equipment for subsidy. This inclusion is expected to further accelerate the adoption of digital payment solutions, especially in areas where such infrastructure is currently underdeveloped.

Moreover, the RBI has made an important adjustment in terms of the subsidy offered for the deployment of these devices. For special focus areas, which include the northeastern states and the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, the subsidy has been increased from 75% to 90% of the cost of the device. This increment is applicable for installations made from October 1, 2023, onwards.

Another significant development is the inclusion of beneficiaries under the PM Vishwakarma Scheme as eligible merchants for deployment under the PIDF scheme. This decision is aimed at broadening the reach of the scheme and ensuring that a larger segment of the population benefits from improved payment infrastructure.

As of the end of November 2023, the number of payment acceptance devices deployed under the PIDF scheme included 8,27,901 physical devices and 2,71,95,902 digital devices. The physical devices category encompasses PoS, mPoS (mobile PoS), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), and PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), whereas digital devices primarily include inter-operable QR code-based payment systems like UPI QR and Bharat QR.

The corpus of the PIDF, as reported on November 30, 2023, stands at Rs 1,026.37 crore, reflecting the substantial investment made by the RBI in this initiative.

In summary, the RBI’s decision to extend and expand the PIDF scheme underscores its commitment to enhancing the digital payments ecosystem in India, particularly in lesser-served regions. This move is anticipated to play a pivotal role in driving the wider adoption of digital payment solutions, thereby contributing to the country’s ongoing digital transformation journey.

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