After making National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) 24x7, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is planning to make its real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system become available round the clock, according to sources familiar with the matter.
This could become a reality in a month or two, said a source.
RTGS is used to transfer large sums, the minimum amount being Rs 2 lakh. This mode is used primarily to facilitate trade and market transactions.
As of November, 229 banks, including scheduled commercial and cooperative banks, were offering this service with total value of transactions reaching Rs 86.8 trillion in November.
Once this mode is made available round the clock, vast opportunities open up.
“This will enable round the clock transfers and settlements in the international financial centre to start with this. Thus, a great bottleneck will be removed,” said a senior banker requesting anonymity.
The domestic market, though, will likely continue to function as per normal market hours, but an international financial centre operates round the clock in such markets where investors could be taking positions in assets in the opposite end of the globe.
No doubt, the primary beneficiary would be the capital markets.
“It would be a good enabling factor for business and capital market activities. And this could act as precursor to full rupee convertibility in future,” said Soumyajit Niyogi, associate director at India Ratings and Research.
According to Ashvin Parekh, a financial sector expert, a 24x7 transaction system gives a huge push to trade and commerce.
“This will be creating a good infrastructure to go in sync with the rest of the world who could be working. Already you can do real-time transfers for retail payments, if RTGS comes too becomes round the clock it would be a big help,” Parekh said.
The RBI has already waived off its fees for clearing NEFT transactions, and for outward transactions using RTGS. On Monday, the RBI said banks should not charge their savings bank customers for using NEFT even as the system remains operational throughout the day and night.
On Monday, between 12 am to 8 am, over 11.40 lakh transactions were settled, according to RBI. Freeing up such transactions were to give further impetus for such digital retail payments.
"RBI now joins an elite club of countries having payment systems which enable round the clock funds transfer and settlement of any value," RBI tweeted on Monday.
So far countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa and China have such payment system that operates round-the-clock and offers settlement of any value.