The number of transactions via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in 2018-19 overtook debit card transactions, the RBI’s annual report showed. While 535.3 crore transactions were made through UPI, number of debit card transactions totaled to 441.4 crores during the year. In comparison, about 1.8 crore UPI-based transactions took place in 2016-17, with nearly 240 crore debit card payments made.
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 24×7 from December.
The report also said that 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 standardize 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.