Money & Banking

Digital economy: House panel calls for robust dispute-settlement mechanism

KR Srivats New Delhi | Updated on January 08, 2018

Helping hand Customers should be provided with an empowered and responsive common helpline number, which they can call whenever needed. - Sushil Kumar Verma

Digital payment users and digital banking customers may finally have a forum and mechanism for remedy and redressal of their grievances on digital frauds if recommendations of a Parliamentary panel get accepted.

The Veerappa Moily-headed Standing Committee on Finance has pitched for a robust dispute settlement mechanism to help identify and bring to book the person responsible for the fraud and also provide prompt resolution to hapless users/customers in a time-bound manner.

The Parliamentary panel has described as “disconcerting”— even as the country moves towards a digital economy — the manifold increase in transactional hassles and grievances of users including ATM frauds, such as cloning, phishing, etc.

“Ordinary customers are then left high and dry, extremely helpless and clueless about the next course of action for remedy and redressal of grievance,” the Standing Committee on Finance said in its report tabled in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The customer/user should also be provided with an empowered and responsive common helpline (SOS) number, which he/she can call whenever needed, the report titled ‘Transformation towards a Digital Economy’ added.

Several challenges

The Committee felt that although the government was taking steps towards promoting a digital economy, several challenges and lingering issues need to be resolved. It underscored the need to address issues such as unreasonable cost of digital transactions, lack of coordination between Central and State governments in expanding digital infrastructure, issues of quality in telecom coverage, including network and inadequate telecom infrastructure. These are some of the major roadblocks on the path to digitalisation, the Panel report said. According to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) estimates, 175 million urban and 750 million rural users are still to be connected. As regards quality of connectivity, India ranks second last in the APAC region on average speed and threshold speed parameters. “Urgent attention is thus called for in this regard to achieve the stated objectives,” the report added.

The Committee has also “strongly recommended” that urgent and earnest efforts are required by both Central and State governments along with industry to vastly improve the quality of telecom, Internet and other digital coverage evenly over the landscape of the country, so that the digital divide is soon bridged. It is necessary to be truly inclusive in this effort, the panel said, adding that the government’s internet growth strategy should be synergised with their larger digital objectives.

“Towards this end, the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund should be fully deployed, particularly with public sector telecom companies for extending mobile and internet penetration and delivering digital services to the hitherto unserviced areas. TRAI should also act as a facilitator to achieve these objectives through their regulatory powers,” the report said.

Published on January 03, 2018

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