The number of transactions via real-time payments system, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), were 1.2 times higher than the number of debit card transactions in 2018-19, according to the Reserve Bank of India's annual report.
According to the report, there were as many as 5.35 billion UPI-based transactions, compared to 4.41 billion debit card payments. In a first, UPI-based transactions overtook debit card payments, indicating a shift in consumers' choices and preferences as far as digital payments are concerned. Besides UPI and debit cards, National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT), prepaid payment instruments such as wallets, internet banking are some other popular e-payment options.
The jump is phenomenal, considering UPI was launched three years ago by the RBI-backed National Payments Corporation of India. During 2017-18, there were 915.2 million UPI transactions, compared to 3.34 billion debit card transactions.
During 2018-19, the number of card payment transactions carried out through credit cards and debit cards was 1.8 billion and 4.4 billion, respectively. Prepaid instruments recorded about 4.6 billion transactions worth ₹2.12 trillion.
“The acceptance infrastructure also witnessed substantial growth, the number of point of sale (POS) terminals increased by 21% to 3.72 million at the end of March 2019, from 3.08 million at the end of March 2018. However, during the same period, the number of ATMs witnessed a decline from 222,247 to 221,703," the annual report said.
Another popular mode of electronic payments, mainly used by businesses, NEFT system handled 2.3 billion transactions worth ₹228 trillion in 2018-19, up 19.1% in terms of volume and 32.3% in terms of value against the year ago. The report said the NEFT facility was available through 144,927 branches of 209 banks.
In a boost to the government’s digital payment plan, the banking regulator said it will make online payment system NEFT available 24x7 from December.
The report also said that the next-generation NEFT will lead to higher degree of automation and state-of the-art features ensuring conformity to global standards. “Introduction of ISO 20022 messaging format in NEFT would standardise messages across the payment and settlement systems and ensure interoperability between payment systems. The Reserve Bank will consolidate its network and storage for easier manageability and monitoring," it said.