Three out of four Jan Dhan account holders now have a RuPay debit card, although it is unclear how many use it. According to official data, the issuance of RuPay debit cards under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana reached an all-time-high of 29.14 crore by February 19.

The scheme has 38.13 crore beneficiaries, with total deposits at ₹1,16,152.12 crore. Public sector banks remained the top issuers of RuPay debit cards, at 24.42 crore, followed by regional rural banks at 3.57 crore cards. Private banks covered almost all 1.26 crore PMJDY beneficiary accounts and handed out 1.15 crore cards.

The usage of PMJDY accounts also seems to be on the rise. According to a reply in the Lok Sabha, as many as 30.78 crore, or 81.3 per cent, of the PMJDY accounts were operational as on January 15.

As part of the government’s financial inclusion initiative, every PMJDY account holder is issued a RuPay debit card. It can be used at all ATMs, PoS (point of sale) terminals and e-commerce websites. It comes with an added personal accident and permanent total disability insurance cover of ₹1 lakh.

RuPay debit cards under the PMJDY scheme also amounted to nearly a third of all 80.53-crore debit cards in circulation as at December-end 2019.

Bankers say that though the issue of debit cards under the PMJDY scheme was slow in the initial years, it is now nearly keeping pace with the account-opening process. “The target is to ensure that every account holder has a RuPay debit card when the account is opened,” said a bank official.

Usage of cards

However, bankers point out that the actual usage of these cards is still low and that not many beneficiaries may be using them.

“In rural areas, the lack of ATMs and awareness often hampers the use of these debit cards by beneficiaries,” the official noted, but added that more people now seem to be using them, especially at PoS terminals.

Another expert said that there have been a lot of efforts to improve the usage of debit cards under the PMJDY, but these measures are yet to bear fruit.

“If we go by the activity in the last 30 days, a small number of cards will be active. This is because the money in the accounts is low or the customer is not sure how to use the card,” he said.