In August, we had released our explainer on the E-Rupi programme in which we pointed out data privacy, financial exploitation, and exclusion. We had also filed some RTIs into the programme, to which we have finally recieved a response! Here a few key pints we noticed;
- The Department of Financial Services (DFS) has said that it will only use such information as has been provided by the sponsor i.e. the entity, public or private, that is providing a beneficiary with an E-Rupi voucher. This means that the government is effectively allowing sponsors to collect whatever data they wish to in the name of the E-Rupi programme.
- The DFS has said that a mobile is mandatory for validating an E-Rupi voucher. As we had pointed out in our explainer, given the signficant digital divide that still exists (as of 30th June, 2021, overall teledensity is 88.07%, while rural teledensity is even lower 60.10%) such provisions may be signficantly exclusionary.
- E-Rupi vouchers will be valid for one year from the date of issuance, after which the specified amount shall be credited back into the sponsor’s account. This may result in adverse welfare outcomes, especially if the programme is extended beyond its current usage in the COVID-19 vaccination program.
- The DFS did not conduct any public consultation around the programme (the National Health Authority and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are yet to respond).
- Lastly, the operating guidelines for the E-RUpi programme does not contain data protection guidelines. Instead, the issuing and receiving banks are to “deploy adequate checks” to prevent misuse.
The RTI response in full can be viewed here, do let us if there are any other points of interest.