UPI transaction value touches new high at Rs 5 trn in March, volume up too

In a market where cash is still king, digital payments are quickly gaining ground as India’s 1.3 billion people are starting to embrace online shopping and services such as online gaming and streaming
Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the flagship payments platform of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), topped the Rs 5 trillion mark in value of transactions in March. It is nearing the 3 billion mark per month in transaction volume.

According to NPCI data for March, UPI recorded 2.73 billion transactions amounting to Rs 5.04 trillion, up 19 per cent in February both in terms of value and volume. In February, it had recorded around 2.3 billion transactions amounting to Rs 4.25 trillion. 

If compared to the same period last year, UPI’s volume and value have grown by 120 per cent and 144 per cent respectively. 

Launched in 2016, UPI crossed 1 billion transactions for the first time in October 2019. While it took UPI three years to reach a billion transactions in a month, the next billion came in just a year, indicating the increased adoption of UPI by consumers for peer-to-peer (P2P) payments and also for peer to merchant (P2M) transactions. 

Digital payments, especially UPI, saw increased adoption in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding the blip in initial months of the pandemic, where transaction volume and value dipped, the recovery was fast and NPCI's payment platforms namely UPI, Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), and others recorded fresh highs in the following months aided by aversion towards cash usage as well as card usage by the general public.

Experts said the surge in UPI transactions is because of increased consumer interest in making bill payments and recharging mobile phones online, and purchase of non-essential goods on e-commerce platforms. There has been a shift in the consumer mindset during the Covid-19 crisis and the subsequent lockdown, as they took to digital modes of payment even in sectors like education.

In its Payments and Settlement Systems in India booklet, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said, UPI has grown to be the fastest payment system in the world with many jurisdictions eager to replicate the system. Given its popularity and acceptance, there are many innovations possible to extend UPI to desktop browsers, feature phones, offline payments as well as recurring payments. 

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