Digital payments rebound in June after blip in April transactions

Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the flagship digital payment platform of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), has reached an all-time high, both in terms of volume and value of transactions since its inception in 2016.

In June, the transaction volume of UPI increased 8.9 per cent to 1.34 billion, from 1.23 billion in May, and the transaction value increased almost 20 per cent to Rs 2.61 trillion, from Rs 2.18 trillion.

In April, the transaction volume of UPI plummeted to 990 million, from 1.2 billion in March, a drop of more than 20 per cent, and the transaction value dipped 27 per cent to Rs 1.51 trillion, from Rs 2.06 trillion in March. The transactions reported in June through UPI surpass that of February’s (pre-Covid), both in terms of volume and value.

Following a similar trend, digital payment platforms saw significant recovery in transaction volumes and values in June after mild pick-up in May, indicating revival in economic activity in Unlock 1.0, after a blip in transactions in April.

The data released by the NPCI for June revealed all digital payment platforms have recovered from the lows in April. In April, digital payments nosedived, as economic activity in the country came to a near standstill due to the nationwide lockdown.

Dilip Asbe, MD&CEO, NPCI said," Volumes are close to February 2020 level ( pre-covid 9 lockdown scenario). After sharp fall in April, there has been gradual recovery in volume and value of transactions, reflecting increase in economic activity in some segments. The retail trade — grocery and shopping have seen pick up over period. If the economic activity remains stable, the payment indicators will show improvement, he added. 

“Because of the coronavirus, a lot of cash users are wary of using currency notes. At checkout points, UPI is becoming the default payment option. It is not only attracting cash users, but card users as well. This trend should sustain because of its convenience. The UPI numbers will keep rising because there is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior,” said Ashneer Grover, founder and chief executive officer (CEO), BharatPe.
“The fact that UPI transactions recorded in June showcase an all-time high clearly indicate there has been a metamorphosis in digital payments, with the lockdown being a catalyst,” said Mandar Agashe, founder and vice-chairman, Sarvatra Technologies.

“Merchants across the country have now opened doors to digital, besides opening up of e-commerce for non-essential goods. Customers have shifted to e-payments for daily necessities and payments, such as utility, mobile, and grocery bills, giving major push to digital payments. With the lockdown extended, we see this trend moving upwards and more people doing digital payments,” he added.

As far as Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) is concerned, transaction volumes were up 19 per cent to 198.91 million in June, from 166.68 million in May, and the transaction value went up 22 per cent to Rs 2.06 trillion, from Rs 1.69 trillion in the same period. In April, IMPS logged a transaction volume of 122.47 million, and a transaction value of Rs 1.21 trillion.

The transaction limit under IMPS and UPI is capped at Rs 2 lakh per transaction.

Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), an online bill payment system, saw its transaction volume grow 26.6 per cent to 17.64 million in June, from 16.54 million in May, and the transaction value go up 36.3 per cent to Rs 2,969.66 crore, from Rs 2,178.72 crore in the same period. In April, the transaction volume of BBPS had plummeted to 12.77 million, and the transaction value had dropped to Rs 1,371.17 crore.

Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS) transaction value soared 10 per cent to Rs 19,981 crore in June, from Rs 18,129 crore. While other payment platforms plummeted in April, AePS has continued to increase every month, mainly because the government uses this mode for direct transfers to poorer sections of society.

Anand Kumar Bajaj, managing director and CEO, PayNearby, said, “The government’s direct benefit transfer schemes, aimed at helping migrants and workers tide over trying times, are a lifeline. Banking correspondents and AePS terminals are the key cash disbursement points in areas plagued with a scarcity of financial infrastructure.”

FASTag saw transaction volumes grow 48.48 per cent to 81.92 million in June, from 55.17 million in May, and the transaction value jumped 32.35 per cent to Rs 1,511.93 crore, from Rs 1,142.34 crore in May, as vehicular activity picked up pace due to phased unlocking by the government.

In April, volumes had plummeted to 10.26 million, and the transaction value dropped to Rs 247.58 crore, as vehicular activity was bare minimum due to the stringent lockdown enforced by the government.

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