Consumers and merchants might be able to avail tax incentives for digital payments through QR code on Unified Payments Interface (UPI) from next year. This is because a proposal to this effect has been approved by members of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which manages the platform. According to people present in the last steering committee meeting in August, consumers and merchants can get tax benefits upon sharing their PAN and GSTIN details respectively. This comes at a time when UPI has emerged as a popular payments instrument and it clocked an all-time high of over 918 million transactions in August. It was decided in the meeting that the consumers’ PAN data, when shared with consent, should be stored in an encrypted format with NPCI. A person aware of the goings-on said NPCI would now submit an implementation plan to the government on this and it could be a reality in 2020. A formal timeline has not been decided yet. This is in line with the government’s move to incentivise digital payments as it has set a target of 40 billion digital transactions by March 2020.
While UPI transactions have risen steadily in the last one year, it is also challenging dominance of other instruments like credit or debit cards, TOI had reported last month. “This proposal first came from the department of revenue, and it was then discussed among the steering committee members. Upon the availability of GSTIN for the merchant entity and PAN of customers, they should be able to get such tax benefits. It was made clear that this should be collected on basis of consent only,” the source said. An email to NPCI did not elicit any response on the matter. During the meeting, it was suggested that this can be implemented in the first phase with merchants and then with customers, which should fast-track the overall implementation process. The proof of concept is likely to be tested with two banks initially. Another industry source aware of the matter said, eventually, this would be like cashbacks. “The idea is to offer a percentage of the GST being paid on a purchase back to consumers. This would boost digital payments, tax compliance for merchants and further adoption of UPI QR codes,” the source added. The quantum of the incentives would depend on multiple factors including transaction size. These details are yet to be finalised.