Lockdown impact: Digital transactions nosedive in April, shows NPCI data

As vehicles remained off the roads, toll collection saw a serious plunge
Digital payments nosedived in April, as economic activities in the country came to a near standstill due to the nationwide lockdown, data released by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) indicated.

The value of IMPS (Immediate Payment Service) transactions in April fell to about Rs 1.21 trillion in April, from about Rs 2.02 trillion in March. The transaction count was 122.5 million in April, from 216.8 million in March, NPCI declared on Twitter and Facebook. In February, before the lockdown started, the IMPS counter had witnessed about Rs 2.15 trillion worth of value in 247.8 million transactions.

The IMPS is typically used for transactions up to Rs 50,000. The drop in such payments,  43.72 per cent vis-a-vis February, and 40 per cent since March indicate a huge contraction in economic activities.

Similarly, transactions through BHIM and UPI (Unified Payments System) fell 26.7 per cent to Rs 1.51 trillion, from Rs 2.06 trillion in March. The number of transactions fell from 1250 million to 990 million between April and March. In comparison, February witnessed 1330 million transactions for a total volume of Rs 2.23 trillion.

As vehicles remained off the roads, toll collection saw a serious plunge. The transaction volume fell to Rs 247.58 crore in April for about 10 million transactions, from Rs 1421.01 crore in March through 84.5 million transactions. This is a steep 82.58 per cent drop in value.

Bharat Billpay saw a relatively less fall in value. Its total transactions fell to Rs 1371. 17 crore, from Rs 1953.99 crore in March. The number of transactions in April fell to 12.77 million, from 15.84 million in February. However, the number of live billers saw an increase to 190, from 182 in March and 176 in February.
The only segment that saw a rise in payments is Aadhaar-based biometric payments (AePS). The volume in April was 147087.6 million through 411.5 million the transactions, from Rs 10,170.31 crore in March through 181.8 million transactions, NPCI data showed. This could be because Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 26 March 2020 introduced a relief package for the informal sector, which was a combination of cash and food assistance using Aadhar-based biometric validation.

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