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Posted at: Dec 6, 2018, 12:10 AM; last updated: Dec 6, 2018, 12:10 AM (IST)

Petrol pumps fail to boost digital transactions

Impediments: Lack of literacy, frauds, poor Net connectivity
Petrol pumps fail to boost digital transactions
Illustration: Sandeep Joshi

Vijay C Roy

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5

Notwithstanding incentives and the Centre’s drive for a cashless economy, most of the consumers in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh prefer to pay cash when it comes to filling petrol and diesel in their vehicles.

Total volume of digital transactions has come down to 25% in the urban areas and less than 5% in the rural areas, petrol pumps owners based in the region said. According to them, immediately after demonetisation, payment through plastic cards had soared to almost 40% of the total sales in the urban centres and almost 10% in the rural areas.

After demonetisation, in December 2016, the Centre had announced a slew of measures, including discounts on online payments for certain services to promote credit and debit card transactions and offered a 0.75 per cent discount to a customer using debit  or credit cards and mobile wallets at petrol pumps.

According to pump owners, ignorance, low literacy level, online frauds, poor internet connectivity and longer settlement period in case of failed transactions are the prime reasons behind fall in digital transactions.

“From the past one-and-a-half year, the number of transactions is standstill at 25% from 40% at its peak in the urban areas,” Petrol Pump Dealers Association Punjab spokesman Gurmeet Monty Sehgal said.

“Even the steps taken by the government to promote digital transactions have failed to yield desired results because of low literacy level and fear among the customers about credit card frauds. The government should make digital transactions easy and better complaint redressal system to increase transactions,” he added.

An executive of Indian Oil Corporation confirmed that the digital transactions are stagnant. The company is promoting digital transactions through a scheme that offers cashback of Rs 50-400 in Punjab.

“People hardly use debit or credit cards at retail outlets. On an average, less than 5% of the transactions are through digital means,” Bilaspur-based filling station owner Poonam Chandel said.

In the northern region, number of petrol pumps in Punjab is the highest with 3,451 retail outlets followed by Haryana (2,918) and J&K (506). Delhi has 438 outlets, Himachal Pradesh (395) and Chandigarh (42).

Around 35-45% of pumps in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are located in rural areas. According to aware consumers, even petrol pumps are reluctant to take credit or debit card payments due to several reasons, including infrastructural bottlenecks. “The internet connectivity is poor. At times, it shows failed transaction but the customer doesn’t understand, resulting in verbal fights. So, we prefer cash over digital transactions,” said a pump owner in Shahabad Markanda in Haryana.

Number of pumps
  •  State Outlets
  •  Punjab 3,451
  •  Haryana 2,918
  •  J&K 506
  •  Delhi 438
  •  Himachal 395
  •  Chandigarh 42


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