Unified Payments Interface (UPI)-based payments clocked more than 1.01 billion transactions, up 10% sequentially, in the first 15 days of October, official data showed.Such transactions were worth ₹19.19 billion, as compared with ₹17.57 billion during the same time period a month ago, according to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data.“Risk of transmission and the need to stay home has given tailwinds to the digital payments interface, which now accounts for a fourth of the value of all retail digital transactions. It is heartening, and not surprising to see UPI leapfrogging to cross 1 billion transactions in the first two weeks of this month,” Mandar Agashe, Founder and Managing Director of Sarvatra Technologies said.Since its launch in 2016, UPI has grown consistently as a popular mode of online payments, barring a fall in transactions during April-May this year when the country was in the midst of a stringent covid-19 induced lockdown.As much as 1.8 million transactions worth ₹3.29 trillion were clocked in September, official data showed. The latest spike in transactions is significant, as it took a little over three years to surpass the 1 billion mark in October, 2019. On a transaction-basis, it is now inching closer a 2 billion mark by the end of the month.Experts believe that the UPI transactions will further witness uptick in the upcoming festive season, with top e-commerce companies offering massive sales.According to Anand Kumar Bajaj, Managing Director of fintech company PayNearby, with the festive season coming up, people are likely to opt for contactless payments during transactions, even beyond the urban stratum.“The festive season is likely to cause a rise in e-commerce consumption in tier one and tier two cities, further increasing UPI volumes. Rural consumption has seen greater recovery as compared to urban regions, and with the advent of smartphones and mobile-based payments, there is likely to be an even greater spurt in the upcoming month,” Bajaj said.Agent banking, which is popular in semi-rural and rural areas is likely to help boost digital payments through small ticket purchases. E-commerce has been one of the greatest drivers of digital banking, and retail platforms are leaving no stone unturned to incentivise the rural segment to consume more with attractive offers and discounts,” he added.