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USAID's Catalyst initiative to educate 6 crore Indian merchants on digital payments

Economic Times:  December, 2016

Bengaluru: To create awareness about digital payments across six crore traders and merchants in the country, Catalyst, an initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with the Indian Finance Ministry, has launched an awareness programme with the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

The traders' body represents 40,000 trade associations and chambers comprising about 6 crore traders in the country. 70% of the merchants and traders that the organization represents have remained untouched by digital payments, Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT, told ET.

The programme will comprise campaigns that will include vernacular digital marketing, workshops, seminars, information sessions and digital payments fairs in local markets to acquaint merchants with different payment methods.

"The objective is to help merchants navigate through the landscape of digital payments and make informed choices. They can be vulnerable , and we have created awareness and education material in collaboration with partners such as software products think-tank iSpirt and others," said Catalyst CEO Badal Malick, who was till recently vice-president for omnichannel strategy at online marketplace Snapdeal.

"There are 50 prime cities from which business flows down the line, and 30 of these are goods distribution centres. If we can digitize these cities in 2017, it will be a big achievement and will set the momentum for the rest of the country. The success of this CAIT's initiative will only start bearing results when such workshops are held within local communities for them to acknowledge the necessity of joining this bandwagon," Khandelwal said.

The confederation had last year also partnered with MasterCard and HDFC to educate traders on the need for adopting digital payments.

USAID had announced the launch the Catalyst initiative in October in partnership with the Indian Finance Ministry to scale digital payments systems in India. Last month, Catalyst signed an MOU with the government of Rajasthan to start its cashless program pilot in Jaipur and turn it into a cashless city.