New Delhi: Digital transactions reached a new peak in January in terms of volume after crossing the 1 billion mark last month.
They rose 4.73% to 1.11 billion in January from 1.06 billion in December, according to provisional data released late on Tuesday by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The overall value of these transactions was also the second highest in a month in the past year. Transactions worth about Rs131.95 trillion were carried out in January through credit and debit cards, the unified payments interface (UPI), unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) and internet banking. The highest so far was in March, at Rs149.59 trillion.
The impact of the government’s decision to bear merchant discount rate (MDR) for a period of two years, applicable on transactions made through debit cards, BHIM UPI and Aadhaar-enabled payments system (AEPS), which was implemented from 1 January is clear, with a significant increase in the volume of transactions made through these modes during the month.
Transactions across UPI reached a new peak in January. The transaction volume was 151.7 million, up around 4% from 145.5 million in the previous month. The value of transactions rose around 18% to ₹ 55.4 billion in January from ₹ 31.4 billion in the previous month. Out of this, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) accounts for 9.57 million transactions, amounting to ₹ 3.65 billion.
Transactions through UPI received a major boost from the government after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the BHIM app on 30 December 2016. Until now, there have been more than 22.7 million downloads of the app on the Android platform and around 1.10 million downloads on the iOS platform.
UPI is a payment system launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) which facilitates instant fund transfer between two bank accounts on the mobile platform without having any details of the beneficiary’s bank.
UPI was launched in August 2016 with 21 banks, and is currently being offered by about 71 banks.
Usage of PPIs such as mobile wallets reached a new peak in terms of both volume and value during January. The volume of PPI transactions in January was 113.6 million as compared with 99.1 million in December.
Transactions worth Rs38.3 billion were recorded in January compared with Rs35.1 billion in December. The provisional data considers transactions of PPIs issued by eight non-bank issuers for goods and services transactions only.
Debit and credit card usage at point-of-sale (PoS) machines was at its second highest in a month since the government’s demonetisation exercise in November 2016. The volume of transactions increased by around 1.43% in January to 267.7 million transactions from 263.9 million transactions in the previous month. The highest was in December at 311 million transactions. However, the value of transactions fell by 3% to Rs512.2 billion in January from Rs528.7 billion in the previous month. Card transactions of four banks have been considered by RBI.
Payments using National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) increased by around 1% and 2.4%, respectively, in January from the preceding month.
“UPI is largely driven by P2P transactions and cashbacks provided by the companies and banks. This is effectively replicating what was happening with wallets earlier. We would see transactions hitting higher on the cashbacks and incentives. We need to see the actual effect once the incentives are stopped," said Dewang Neralla, chief executive officer, Atom Technologies Ltd, a payment service provider.
“However there is need for an education drive both for the customers as well as the merchants so that proliferation of digital payments can increase," he added.
The government has been pushing to popularize digital payments. Its aim is to grow India’s digital economy to $1 trillion by 2022.