The Centre’s Niti Aayog will launch two schemes – Lucky Grahak and Digi Dhan Vyapari Yojana – on December 25 in its bid to promote cashless transactions. Niti Aayog chairperson Amitabh Kant (pictured above) said the incentives, estimated to cost Rs 340 crore, will cover transactions between Rs 50 and Rs 3,000 via RuPay, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, Unified Payment Interface and Aadhaar-enabled payment system. He said this was a “Christmas gift for the nation”.

Kant said the National Payments Corporation of India will also announce 15,000 winners of Rs 1,000 each for the next 100 days, and 7,000 weekly awards (a maximum of Rs 50,000) for merchants. Stating that “We cannot afford a parallel economy,” Kant said the schemes were an attempt to include the poor and small businesses in the digital revolution. Transactions made via credit cards and e-wallets will not be eligible.

On April 14, an award of Rs 1 crore will be announced for consumers, followed by a second prize of Rs 50 lakh and a third of Rs 25 lakh.

The Centre has been criticised for its demonetisation drive which has led to a cash crunch in the country. On November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, that accounted for 86% of the currency in the country, would no longer be legal tender. He said this was an attempt to crackdown on black money and corruption in India.