The government has requested that the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) set up a framework for electronic vaccination vouchers. These vouchers will function similar to electronic prepaid devices that can only be used for vaccination.
“To promote the spirit of ‘Lok Kalyan’, the use of non-transferable electronic vouchers which can be redeemed at private vaccination centres will be encouraged. This would enable people to financially support vaccination of economically weaker sections (EWS) at private vaccination centres,” read the government’s new guidelines.
Employers may buy these vouchers in bulk and have them sent to their employees’ smartphones or feature phones. The employee will then present the voucher to the hospital for a cashless vaccination, and the money will be credited to the hospital’s account immediately.
According to sources in the payments sector, the NPCI is currently shortlisting banks to issue these vouchers. The Reserve Bank of India will authorise these vouchers. In turn, in collaboration with technological service providers, banks will provide this as a payments solution. The coupon will be sent to smartphones as a QR code and to feature phones as a code. The same mobile phone may be used to distribute coupons to everyone in the family.
These vouchers can be bought by anyone willing to help an individual. Currently, private organisations that wish to collaborate in vaccinating their employees and families do it in a camp setting. This is only possible if a sizeable number of employees are present.
The vaccination e-vouchers will also allow the private sector to plan when placing orders with vaccine producers. The benefit for hospitals is that the payment will be sent into their bank account immediately. These vouchers may only be used at private vaccination centres. This is because the government has already made vaccinations free of charge at government facilities.
However, one cannot use these e-vouchers to book the vaccine slots. It can only be used as a mode of payment at private inoculation sites. The slots can only be booked online on the Co-WIN application or by scheduling an appointment offline by visiting a vaccination centre.
The cost of the e-voucher is estimated to be the same as the cost of a vaccine. At private hospitals, Covishield will cost ₹780 for each dosage, Covaxin ₹1,410, and Sputnik V ₹1,145.
These vouchers can be offered to anybody. The government has not specified a deadline, but many media sources indicate that vaccine vouchers should be available on NPCI by mid-July.
According to sources, although the technology was designed for vaccinations, it could be used for any type of targeted direct benefit transfer. This eliminates the need for subsidies, and providers will not encounter any difficulties in collecting payments from the government. According to bankers, the platform is comparable to various companies’ prepaid gift card solutions, including e-commerce firms.