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Cost of Digital transaction for the citizen

As India moves to digital transactions and less cash business, there arise some critical issues from the user/consumer point of view, which need consideration before encouraging more of the masses to adopt it. In this context, the benefits are well taken but the pitfalls can’t be ignored nor their significance be trivialized in the din of political debates, media campaigns and short term gains for any quarter.All the disclosed as well as the hidden charges payable by the ordinary citizen need to be disclosed before going digital only full blast. The following need clarification:

1, Does a debit card come for free?

  1. Is any fee payable for getting a debit card?
  2. Does a credit card come for free?
  3. Is any fee payable for getting a credit card?
  4. What is the annual fee for the debit/credit card?
  5. Are there different types of debit/credit cards?
  6. What fee is charged for different debit/credit card?
  7. In case of default in making payment for the credit card, what is the rate of annual interest payable?
  8. Cases of consumer grievances against banks for non reconciliation of accounts even after making full payment are reported from time to time. With the push for greater digital payment how will these problems be settled with the speed of the digital mode? Can they be settled in minutes?

 

  1. How will the consumer be protected against digital frauds by cyber criminals, who are potent threats to the ordinary consumer? One can expect millions of cases once people have no option but to shift to digital transaction. Currently, neither the police nor the courts nor even the lawyers are trained in cyber financial crimes and frauds. Before they become specialists, the cyber criminals would have mined the Indian financial system completely leaving nothing for us.

 

  1. Does it not amount to losing millions of jobs for a few digital bankers who will mint money?

 

  1. What mechanism is in place to protect consumer interests from usurious practices of the few who will monopolize the system in a short time through arbitrary and unreasonable charges for various kinds of cards and interest rates?

 

  1. Money lenders are a class despised for charging high interest rates, but the penal charges of the credit card issuing banks in the private sector will shame even a Shylock. What mechanism, if any, is in place to protect the ordinary citizen from such unlawful practices?

 

  1. Credit cards promote a culture of living on borrowed money. One of the greatest reasons for poverty in the country is obtaining loans from the money lenders for consumption at high interest rates, which are difficult to service or re-pay. Credit cards come with a credit limit and money can be paid in easy EMIs. The credit card issuing banks are interested in spoiling the people’s habits by inducing them to consume more on borrowed money so that they get interest income for long. Are we staking the future of our citizens?

 

  1. Foreign manufacturers and banks treat India as a big market. They can’t be expected to treat poor & rich consumers differently. The poor are a potential market as they too aspire to own mobile phones, TV, watches, fashion garments etc. The poor are vulnerable to fall for the easy money and EMIs, but can’t repay their loans. The creditor employs toughs to get back his money and these are extra legal methods. Are we pushing our society towards that kind of a culture?

 

  1. The public sector has saved the masses from over-exploitation. The digital transactions will be largely monopolized by the private sector and scams like the Sardha Chit Fund Ghotala of West Bengal and thousand others of similar financial frauds, which had only robbed the masses of billions of rupees so far, pose the biggest threat to the society in its history. Can sovereign guarantee be given for 100% protection of the poor man’s money?

 

  1. The masses should be taken into confidence instead of confusing them with terminology of foreign financial practices.

 

  1. Does digitization pose the ultimate threat to the Indian economy if it suits the economic interests of the super powers?

 

  1. India is unique in that it has always been a “mixed” system in matters financial, economic, political, religious, philosophical, culture or governance. The digital transaction aims towards uniformity of a kind which will prove detrimental to the people in due course. Is the government sensitive to it?

 

  1. Finally, why should the citizen be compelled to pay and go digital when he can carry on his daily business comfortably in cash without paying a paisa for it? Why is public not told about cost to the consumer each time he swipes a debit or credit card e.g. “convenience fee” of Rs. 300 on a single to & fro air ticket purchased online?

 

 

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