Forget about digital payments; the SMC-run SMIMER and NCH Hospitals only accept cash.


Surat: If you do not have cash on you the next time you visit the Surat Municipal Corporation-run SMIMER Hospital or the New Civil Hospital (NCH), you will not have access to medical services. These two hospitals do not accept digital payments at their cash registers, which may place you in an unpleasant predicament.

With digital payments gaining ubiquitous acceptance and forecasted to reach $10 trillion in value by 2026, the old cash system is still in operation at the SMIMER and NCH hospital. For every small medical need, the patients have to shell out cash from their pockets to access the medical facilities.

In his 75th Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India is leading the world in real-time digital payments by clocking almost 40 percent of all such transactions. PM Modi praised the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and the fintech sector for bringing in the digital payment revolution in India in the last three years.

“My relative had to get a few medical reports done from the SMIMER hospital,” said Shailesh Prajapati, a banking officer. We didn’t have any cash, but we were convinced that the cashier would take digital payment by smartphone. To our astonishment, the cashier at the counter told us that because they didn’t have the UPI payment, we had to pay the entire amount in cash.”

Digit payments have grown in India in the last two years of the coronavirus pandemic, mainly due to the mass adoption of UPI for daily transactions. The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) digital payment index (DPI), launched in January 2021, reflects this milestone.

In FY22, UPI processed more than 46 billion transactions amounting to more than Rs 84.17 trillion. In FY21, it processed 22.28 billion transactions, amounting to Rs 41.03 trillion. So, both the volume and value of transactions doubled in a year. UPI’s next target is to process a billion transactions in a day in three or five years.

Digital payments (non-cash) will constitute two out of three payment transactions by 2026, said the PhonePe Pulse-BCG report called ‘Digital payments in India: A $10 trillion opportunity.

The survey found that the widespread adoption of digital payments was largely due to the participation of numerous new companies providing a wide range of services. End-user adoption of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India has been largely facilitated by global and Indian fintech players, who have also contributed to the development of a widespread merchant acceptance network based on the usage of QR codes. This is reinforced by features such as straightforward navigation, cutting-edge functionality, and an accessible API system.