Going green with the green economy (Comment)

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* 24 trees. That’s the number of trees that need to be cut to make one ton of uncoated, non-recycled printing and office paper.

*10.6 per cent. That’s how much India’s per capita consumption of paper grew this year, poised to grow and touch 25 million tonnes by 2019-20.

* 10 lakh tonnes. The amount of paper imported by India last year, making it one of the biggest importers of paper in the world.

* 10 litres. The amount of water used to make a single sheet of A4 paper.

These figures show the heavy dependence of the Indian market on paper. Every day, businesses across India, utilise many sheets of papers to process one purchase order (PO). The POs are printed, put in paper envelopes and sent by post to suppliers. Invoices are on paper, delivery receipts are on paper, payment reminders are on paper, finance departments seek internal approvals and signatures on printed copies, and the payment is usually done by cheque. Typically 20+ pieces of paper are used for each order in this cycle from procurement to payment. Then all this paper has to be filed away, usually multiple copies in different departments. This is apocalyptic for the environment.

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It’s time to go green. It’s time to go paperless.

Digital payments have now gone mainstream due to the recent financial reforms India has witnessed. Online transactions have increased, and cash transactions reported a reduction by Rs 28,000 crore in 2017. Banks too, have been proactive in adopting green practices such as paperless services, eco-friendly initiatives like internet banking/mobile banking, and promoting online banking instead of branch banking to help reduce the carbon footprint.

Digital payment players have been instrumental in bringing about a paperless revolution in India, by reducing the heavy usage of paper by businesses. Automating and digitising most of the procure-to-pay process with smart invoicing, easy payment reminders and digital maker/checker/approver process, digital payments has proved beneficial for both businesses and consumers.

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Besides helping to save the environment, going paperless with financial transactions is actually good for businesses. Here’s why:

* Better savings: Going digital eliminates the costs associated with printing, faxing, mailing and more. Moreover, shipping costs are reduced when businesses no longer need to mail or overnight documents for signatures. By automating business processes and transitioning to more eco-friendly workflow solutions such as digital documents, email and technology can reduce filing and retrieval costs, data entry costs and associated labour costs. These savings can really add up and show an impressive and substantial return on investment.

* Better efficiency: Paper trails are not the most reliable way to conduct business. However, electronic records of digital payments are easier to track in a more accurate manner, saving time and effort of follow ups. Additionally, they have a quick turnaround time of the payments being made and accepted, adding to the productivity of a business.

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Better reach: Digital payment platforms offer a faster, easier way to share invoices digitally to any part of the world, while also making the process more safe and secure. Though India has taken a step towards going digital, there is still a long way to go. The nation has to work towards creating an ecosystem for zero documentation and it is now for the industry and government to work in tandem, to build applications that will allow users to go completely paperless in the coming years.

So, it is time to Go Green, Go Digital.

(Ajay Adiseshann is founder & CEO of PayMate. The views expressed are personal)

–IANS

ajay/vm

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