KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today expressed interest in India's bid to go cashless and to cut out the middleman through online procurement by the government.
Dr Mahathir was commenting on initiatives by India's prime minister Narendra Modi to restrict the use of cash in the country and to encourage digital financial transactions instead.
“I was very interested in how he had decided they will not use cash. Everybody in India now has a bank account.
“The government of India, for example, when they want to procure something for the government, they go online and the supplier is direct to the government,” he said in a press conference broadcast live today after a Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting.
Modi's administration had taken various measures to deter cash-facilitated crime and corruption and the use of counterfeit money, including by banning the use of large denomination banknotes.
Modi's government also introduced an identity card with biometric verification that successfully saw most of the country's population having a digital identity, which allowed many Indian nationals to open bank accounts and subsequently shift to using digital payment.
The Indian government even has a website called Cashless India, where the government touts its flagship programme dubbed Digital India with the role of pushing the “Faceless, Paperless, Cashless” concept.
Various digital payment methods are offered in India to promote cashless transactions, including mobile banking, online banking, banking cards, prepaid bank cards, digital wallets, and micro ATMs.
Malaysia is also pursuing ambitions of moving towards a cashless society, with Bank Negara Malaysia's Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020 listing electronic payments as one of its nine focus areas for greater economic efficiency.
BNM is working to speed up the shift from cash to digital payments, with a target by 2020 of increasing the number of e-payment transactions per capita from 44 transactions to 200 transactions, and also cutting down the use of cheques from 207 million to a targeted 100 million annually also by 2020, its website stated.
Dr Mahathir said he had a good meeting with Modi yesterday when the latter paid a courtesy call.
“I thought I had never met him, he brought up a picture showing that I was having a discussion with him way back in 90 something, at that time he was not the prime minister.
“But we had a very good discussion on how Malaysia and India can work together in many fields, in the field of technology,” he said, also indicating interest in looking at India's education methods.
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