In the past few years, the government has attempted to coerce, cajole and incentivise citizens to move towards digital payments. The Indian railways, which is the largest carrier of people and goods in this country, is naturally doing the same.
Its most recent attempt will now include a 0.5% discount for tickets in unreserved categories, and free passenger insurance, for those who purchase tickets via cashless facilities.
The Indian railways already offer a 0.5% discount on monthly travel passes if customers purchase them with credit or debit cards. “We are trying to minimise the use of cash as much as possible. So, several incentives are being rolled out for passengers,” Mohd Jamshed, member-traffic, Rail Board, told the Economic Times. “The financial burden of the incentives given is being borne by us.”
In a bid to offer such incentives, it is reportedly losing 400 crore a year for waiving service charges on tickets bought via the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website, reports the Economic Times.
The transition to cashless among customers who avail services of the Indian railways has reached new heights with nearly 60% of the total annual transactions in the passenger segment reportedly going cashless—a 20% jump since the announcement for demonetisation.
Besides the IRCTC website, the railway is also planning to introduce PoS (point of sale) machines at all its ticket counters, besides allowing for payments via digital wallets. In the freight segment, 95% of the transactions are conducted without the requirement for hard cash.
“Earlier, most of our cashless transactions were through IRCTC. Though that is still the case, we have also started accepting cards and BHIM at unreserved ticket counters. Railways are benefiting from it as we are reducing the cost of handling cash,” Jamshed added.
In its bid to further promote cashless payments, the rail carrier has asked banks to slash charges on digital payments for train tickets with the promise of more business.