Digital Economy Current Affairs

PM launches cashless/less cash township models across 12 states

Prime Minister has launched 81 cashless/less cash townships across 12 states in Nagpur. The 81 townships included 56 in Gujarat and 25 in 11 states including Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and Chhatisgarh. The model of cashless/less cash township was developed by Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GNFC) across these States under the auspices of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog.

GNFC’s township at Bharuch (Gujarat) had become India’s first 100% cashless township after demonetization. It is expected that these 81 townships will deliver 2.5 lakh cashless transactions per day, translating into 9 crore cashless transactions in a year.

Cashless townships

The townships for adopting GNFC’s model were selected based on a third-party assessment by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC). The chosen 81 townships belonged to that of central public sector companies such as ONGC, Indian Oil, NTPC, SAIL, BHEL, NMDC, CRPF, BSF and Police Lines and also to private sector townships like Reliance, Essar, Adani, Birla Aditya, Welspun etc.

Criteria

The criteria for qualification of a township to a less cash township are: townships must have completed the payment acceptance infrastructure; all the families residing in the townships must have been covered under training programmes; 80% of total transactions during the review period should have been done through digital modes.

NITI Aayog has appreciated GNFC’s model and had advised Central ministries and CMDs of 300-plus central PSUs for quickly adopting to this model.

Significance

As per the study conducted by PWC on GNFC’s cashless initiative, following benefits have been identified:

  • It resulted in financial inclusion, cashlessness as a lifestyle, better parental control over child’s expenses, women’s empowerment, more convenience in performing transactions and social upliftment.
  • Over 96% of farmers during the assessment reported cost savings resulting from fewer trips to fertiliser shops and discounts on cashless transactions. They have also reported better money management.

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G20 Digital Ministerial Meeting on Digital Economy held in Germany

The G20 Digital Ministerial Meeting on Digital Economy was held in Dusseldorf, Germany. Ministers responsible for the digital economy from G20 countries had participated in it.

It concluded with adaptation of declaration on ‘Shaping Digitalisation for an Interconnected World’.

Key Features of the declaration
  • It talks about the need for greater availability of affordable broadband connectivity, broader adoption of digital technologies and services improved digital skills and literacy, greater digital entrepreneurship for the digital economy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • It includes three annex papers on ‘Digital skills in vocational education and training’, ‘A Roadmap for Digitalisation: Policies for a Digital Future’ and ‘G20 Priorities on Digital Trade’.
  • It calls for collaboration between the countries and all stakeholders, including academia and private sector and sharing of best practices forms.
  • It calls for greater support for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) which might be constrained by their scale in adoption of digital technologies. 
Background

The ministerial conference was held according to the G20 Task Force on the digital economy established in G20 summit held in Hangzhou, China in 2016. The G20 leaders summit held at Hangzhou had proposed to collectively leverage the opportunities and address challenges of an increasingly digital world, in order to enable a dynamic and thriving digital economy to drive inclusive global growth that benefits all.

About G20

  • The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for its members’ international economic cooperation and decision-making.
  • It is deliberating forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies on economic issues and other important development challenges.
  • It was started in 1999 as a meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the aftermath of the Southeast Asian (Tiger economies) financial crisis.
  • It was established for studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
  • In 2008, the first G20 Leaders’ Summit was held in Washington DC, US. The group had played a key role in responding to the global financial crisis.
  • It comprises total 19 countries plus the European Union (EU), representing 85% of global GDP, 80% of international trade, 65% of world’s population.
  • Its members include Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, India, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, UK, US and EU.

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