Remove costs associated with digital payments: Trai Chief

Aadhaar is just a number, doesn’t emit data, says Trai chief R S Sharma

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Remove costs associated with digital payments: Trai Chief

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman R S Sharma on Wednesday suggested removal of costs related with digital payments such as merchant discount rate (MDR) for promoting digital transactions in the country.

“If we want to have a sustainable digital transactions system, we must ensure that MDR or Merchant Discount Rate is zero, especially for small value transactions because that is where the tipping point will come,” he said adding that India has most robust digital payment infrastructure.

“We are a frugal country in the sense that we don’t want to pay anything for digital services, especially when there is an alternative not to pay,” he said.

There is a need to address the issues related to data ownership and privacy to prevent misuse of an individual’s data, he said at a conclave on financial inclusion organised by United Nations.

Data has two important properties: it is shareable without getting diminished and is boundary-less in nature. This raises a very serious issue of who owns the data, he said. “That is important…If you look at agreements of all these technology firms, they have policy called data privacy policy. One would think this policy is given to me (user) to say that how will I (the company) protect the privacy of your data. It is not that. It is a policy that says how a company can use/misuse or share users’ data,” Sharma said.

“Then there is data privacy. Once the data goes out, what can be done with that data. So people are concerned about Aadhaar. People should be concerned about other things, say, mobile is 100 times more dangerous than Aadhaar. Aadhaar does not emit your data, it’s just a number.”

With services like GPS a lot of “metadata” about users is given out and stored in clouds, not with the government but private firms. “This metadata and data being emitted is humungous. Therefore, issues of data ownership, its privacy and security are extremely important. And the sooner this issue is tackled, the better it is,” he said.


  • Sharma said merchant discount rate should be zero, especially for small value transactions
  • Also highlighted the need to address the issues related to data ownership and privacy
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