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From FASTag to WhatsApp usage, here is how your life will change from January 2021

RBI had provided a big fillip to contactless card transactions

FASTag-car-PTI Representational image | PTI

From a global pandemic to extended lockdowns, economic suffering and human loss, 2020 has been a year to forget for all of us. As we look to the upcoming New Year with expectations, changes are inevitable. From January 1, 2021, a lot of important day-to-day shifts—from car prices to FASTag rules and landline usage—are expected. Here is a list of what you need to look out for:

1. Mandatory FASTags

Having amended the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, mandatory FASTags for four-wheelers and M&N category of vehicles sold before December 1, 2017 will come into effect from January 1, 2021. FASTag, in essence, allows for the automatic deduction of toll charges at a toll plaza, and there will be no more need for cash transaction. The Union ministry of road transport had issued a notification on the same. All the available mode of recharges such as debit card, credit card, net banking and Unified Payments Interface have been enabled for loading money to the FASTag account. A customer may call on the helpline number, '1033', for any assistance related to FASTags, and they can also reach out to the banks to obtain FASTags.

2. Add prefix '0' for calls from landline to mobile phones  

From January, callers will have to dial numbers with prefix '0' for making calls from landline to mobile phone. Announcing the decision, the communications ministry said the move would free up sufficient numbering resources for future use, and nearly 2,539 million numbering series are expected to be generated as a result. There will be no change with respect to dialling numbers for fixed-to fixed, mobile-to-fixed, and mobile-to-mobile calls. "All fixed to mobile calls will be dialled with prefix '0' from 15 January, 2021," a statement from the ministry said. Suitable announcement would be fed in the fixed line switches for the same. "This announcement shall be played whenever a subscriber dials a fixed to mobile call without prefixing '0'," it said.

3. RBI fillip to contactless card transactions


In a bid to give a push to digital payments, the Reserve Bank on Friday announced a slew of measures including enhancing the limit for contactless card transactions to Rs 5,000 and making RTGS transaction facility available round the clock. The RBI has also decided to grant licence to entities operating payments systems on a perpetual basis, and permitted companies to reapply for licence after one year of rejection of their application or revocation of their licence. 

4. WhatsApp could stop working on select phones


From January 1, 2021, Facebook-owned messaging application WhatsApp could stop working on select mobile phone systems. According to multiple reports, WhatsApp could work best on the above systems: Android OS 4.0.3 and higher, iPhone iOS 9 and higher, some systems running KaiOS 2.5.1 or higher, including JioPhone and JioPhone 2.

5. 'Positive' cheque payment system


Come new year, a new system will be in place for cheques under which reconfirmation of key details may be needed for payments beyond Rs 50,000. The 'positive pay system' for cheques was announced by the Reserve Bank of India in September to check banking fraud and is all set for implementation from January 1, 2021. The concept of 'positive pay' involves a process of reconfirming key details of large value cheques. Under this process, the issuer of the cheque submits electronically, through channels like SMS, mobile app, internet banking, ATM, etc, certain minimum details of that cheque (like date, name of the beneficiary/payee, amount, etc) to the drawee bank, details of which are cross-checked with the presented cheque by Cheque Truncation System (CTS). Any discrepancy is flagged by CTS to the drawee bank and presenting bank, who would take redressal measures.

6. Car and two-wheeler price hikes


Come January 2021, to offset increasing manufacturing costs, car companies like Maruti Suzuki, MG Motor India, Renault, Mahindra & Mahindra, and two-wheeler company Hero MotoCorp, will hike their prices. CNBC reported that MG Motor—which owns three models Hector, ZS EV and Gloster, priced between Rs 12.83 lakh and Rs 35.6 lakh—could hike their prices up by three per cent.

7. Relief for GST-registered small businesses


The 42nd meeting of the GST Council, chaired by Union finance minister and comprising state counterparts, had eased compliance burden for small taxpayers with an annual turnover of less than Rs 5 crore by allowing them to file GST returns on a quarterly basis with monthly tax payments from January 1, 2021. "Such quarterly taxpayers would, for the first two months of the quarter, have an option to pay 35 per cent of the net cash tax liability of the last quarter using an auto-generated challan," the statement added.

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