New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of an Aadhaar-linked biometric payment app, BHIM, in two weeks to further push cashless transactions even as his 50-day demonetisation drive ended on Friday.
“There was a time when illiterate persons were ridiculed as ‘angootha chaap’… times have changed, now your thumb will be your bank, identity and business,” he said.
BHIM or Bharat Interface for Money is an application both for smart and feature phones. It needs just a thumb impression, and no Internet. Developed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), BHIM is supported by a host of banks.
Mr Modi used wit and humour to take swipes at his political opponents for criticising demonetisation, saying the drive was aimed at catching the “mouse that eats away the nation’s wealth.”
Though he did not name anyone, his comments were directed towards Opposition parties which have been criticising the demonetisation move for yielding “minuscule results” in unearthing black money.
Scoring a political point, he said the indigenously developed payment app was named after the main architect of Indian constitution, Bhim Rao Ambedkar. Mr Modi said it was a simple app that can be used for making and receiving payments.
“Through this app, Bharat Ratna Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s name will take the centrestage in India’s economy. The day is not far when people will conduct their business through this app,” he said.
Mr Modi said the government was currently working on the app’s security aspects, and it would be launched in two weeks. The PM said that the world wondered how India, a country of illiterates, could use EVMs in the elections.
“Some people are pessimists in their hearts and minds. They start their days with pessimism. They may live with that,” he said.
Referring to the critics, he said, “For pessimists, I cannot offer any medicine, but for optimists, I have thousands of avenues.”
Former finance minister P. Chidambaram insisted that the Opposition’s concerns on demonetisation had been found “correct”, and said the PM should now make a categorical announcement of an end to all restrictions on cash withdrawals.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said the currency situation had stabilised to a great extent, but did not give any indication regarding lifting curbs on cash withdrawal anytime soon.