In another push towards promoting a digital economy in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched a new e-wallet app, Bharat Interface For Money or Bhim, which aims to make online transactions easier. “The launch of the Bhim app is significant,” Modi said. “With Bhim, I’m giving the country the greatest gift of 2017.”
He added that the security features of the app would be upgraded soon. “It will require only your fingerprint,” he told audiences at the Digi-Dhan Mela at Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium. “The times have now changed. Today, your fingerprint is your bank, your identity.”
At the event, the prime minister also handed out prizes to those who made digital transactions, as part of the Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana he had announced on Christmas Day. The prizes are given to those who made transactions of more than Rs 50 but less than Rs 3,000 so the poor could win, he said. “Over the 100-day period, several families will be given these prizes. These schemes were launched to benefit poor.”
The mega draw, he said would be held on April 14, the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar, after whom the e-wallet was named. Calling him a great economist, he emphasised that it was Dr Ambedkar’s mantra to work for the upliftment of the poor. “The biggest power of technology is that it can empower the poor,” Modi said.
The prime minister also thanked the media for questioning the government’s insistence on moving towards a digital economy when not all the poor in India have mobile phones. He said the media’s speculation helped his administration “formulate schemes and take up initiatives to empower the poor”. “Furthering digital connectivity will do wonders for our nation.”
His statements come on the last day of the window for citizens to deposit the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at banks. After the December 30 deadline, they can deposit the money only at the Reserve Bank of India till March 31, after which they will face a minimum penalty of Rs 10,000. So far, the Centre had made no announcement on whether the withdrawal restrictions at ATMs (Rs 2,500) and banks (Rs 24,000 per week per person) will remain in place.