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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Odisha has made a mark in digital transactions. State is emerging as a cashless hub in the country as it figured among the top-10 'BHIMS' (big players) in cashless payment.

As per data available with the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) and RBI, in the list of states with high cashless transactions, Odisha conspicuously occupies a position in the top-10. The State has been slotted at 8th nationally in the usage of BHIM app and Rupay debit card to make digital payments.

Odisha is only behind states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, UP, Rajasthan and West Bengal.

The State residents have extensively availed the services of 'BHIM' to undertake cashless transactions since the launch of the app by PM Narendra Modi on December 30, 2016.

As per the data accessed,  the digital payments done via BHIM in the State have grown by a humongous 619 per cent between 2017-18 and 2018-19. The volume of digital transactions on BHIM in the State touched a massive Rs 17.10 crore in 2018-19 vis-a-vis Rs 2.77 cr in 2017-18.

Whereas, the transactions undertaken through Rupay debit cards in the same fiscal year in the State stood at Rs 4.31 crore compared to Rs 3.68 cr in 2017-18.

However, digital transactions under the USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) in Odisha dropped by nearly half to Rs 52,430 from Rs 1.01 lakh in 2017-18.

The drop in USSD vis-a-vis BHIM looks quite surprising as USSD, developed by NPCI, works without internet & smartphone. It is accessible through a common code called *99# across all telecom service providers and users could avail the service with their feature phones.

In contrast, BHIM, Bharat Interface for Money, is an app-based version that uses UPI (unified payment interface) to let users make quick transactions. BHIM is also a product of NPCI.

"USSD codes usage dropped because digital payment services under it are a bit cumbersome. Here the fund transfer is necessitated via MMID (a code allotted by banks when a customer registers his mobile number), and as different banks follow different protocol, a user need to follow up with the bank to conform USSD code; whereas BHIM has no such cumbersome details," explained a senior RBI official here.

However, the faster growth registered by BHIM in digital payment is seen by experts here in conjunction with the fact of Odisha featuring among the top-10 smartphone users in country in 2018. The smartphone penetration in the State stood at 45 per cent, said a report of Cyber Media Research.

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