Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said it is not so difficult for Goa to have 50 per cent of cashless transactions, if certain bottlenecks are removed.
"It is not very difficult to attain 50 per cent cashless payment in Goa. How long it will take to achieve that level will depend on various bottlenecks that are currently existing in the state," Parrikar said.
"For example, PoS machines availability is getting strained. So, as and when more and more PoS machines will come, more and more transactions will shift to cashless," the former Goa chief minister said.
People have already shifted in a big way to cashless payments, he said, adding that at petrol pumps across the state almost 60 per cent transaction is through cards.
"Many people don't know that to have a debit card, you don't have to necessarily have an account. There are prepaid debit cards available," he said.
Parrikar said when the concept of cashless society was introduced in the state in November, then the transactions were almost 20 per cent through cards.
"After that the (cashless) transactions have almost increased to four times. We can't give exact data because the banks are not ready with data, they are too busy with this demonetisation process. But safely we can say, it has definitely increased to more than double," he said.
Pointing out that Goa government departments are also increasingly going cashless, Parrikar said there are some difficulties to make revenue collection cashless and they are being tackled.
"Now they are working on each government department having an account of its own where all the money will be collected and in the evening it will be credited to the central treasury," the senior BJP leader said.
"As far as payments are concerned, Goa government is hundred per cent cashless since 2013," he said.
Regarding the charges levied on doing a cashless transaction, Parrikar said "as the transaction increases, fees will drop. Government is also considering various options."
"I can't disclose about the options right now, but government is also trying the possibility to make transactions free (from fees payment) below a particular level by cashless mode," he said.
On worries about cyber crimes related to cashless payments, the Defence Minister said, "As far as cyber crime is concerned, all these payment mechanisms are very secure.
"Cyber crime can happen even if you don't pay through digital (mode)," he said.
"If you keep your data on computer, it can be hacked and money can be transferred. Cyber crime is a different issue, not necessarily linked
with data cards. If a person is not comfortable, he can always use debit card. Prepaid debit card is almost like money," Parrikar said.
Stressing that some existing systems (regarding banking) need to be changed, he said, "If you take a debit card and withdraw cash through ATM, there are no charges, but if you swipe the card with a trader (shop), there are charges. This is surprising. This is out of some regulation which has to be properly amended."
"Old systems and old habits die-hard. As we proceed we will understand difficulties. Even country like Sweden took a decade to reach 87 per cent cashless transaction," he said.
Parrikar said the excessive cash supply, particularly in bigger denominations, enhances or supports crime, drugs and activities related to tax-evasion.
"Therefore, any country's economic health improves if it starts transacting through digital mode," he said.
The Union Minister also said that the Canteen Store Department (of Defence) in Delhi has gone hundred per cent cashless.
"It accepts cash from old people, and those who come from outside Delhi. There I realised that people are not aware of prepaid debit card," he said.
"I had to take an old couple to the bank branch nearby and get the manager explain them what is prepaid debit card.
"There are mechanisms available by which, if you are not comfortable with mobile application, you can still use cards, debit cards, pre-paid cards and even Aadhar (card). I think this would be a very encouraging start," he added.