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India Records 74 billion Digital Payments During FY 2021-22

The number of digital payments increased by 33% year-on-year during the financial year (FY) 2021-2022. Data from the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology (MeitY) has shown that approximately 74.22 billion digital payment transactions were recorded during this period, up from 55.5 billion transactions registered in FY 2020-21.

The National Payments Corporation of India’s (NPCI) unified payment interface (UPI) was the most used platform for digital transactions during the period, accounting for 4.52 billion transactions with a value of IN₹8.27 trillion (US$108 billion), until the end of February. NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems owned under the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). UPI was developed under the Digital India initiative and is the government’s instant real-time payment system that facilitates inter-bank transactions.

According to NPCI, last month the number of UPI transactions was almost twice the volume from the previous year. In February 2021, 2.29 billion UPI transactions worth IN₹4.25 trillion (US$55.6 billion) were made. This means that UPI has increased by nearly half monthly in the last year. For the past three years, India has been a front-runner in the digital payments market. As per a report, with 25.5 billion payments, India was among the top countries regarding real-time payment transactions. China and South Korea followed with 15.7 billion 6 billion, respectively.

A news report explained that electronic payment transactions in the country have significantly grown, this was, to a large extent, due to the pandemic, when people had to observe social distancing protocols and order groceries and other items online. Following COVID-19 regulations, several merchants and stores stopped cash payments. To ensure all citizens could use digital payment methods, last December, RBI announced it would launch UPI-based digital payment solutions for feature phones, eliminating the need for an Internet connection. RBI also planned to launch an ‘on-device’ wallet in UPI applications, which would simplify the process for small-value transactions.

Before the project, only smartphone users were able to use UPI services for payments. India has around 1.2 billion mobile users, of which only 740 million have smartphones. The UPI service for feature phones, which lack the advanced functionalities of smartphones, is expected to benefit a large number of consumers.

As OpenGov Asia had reported, almost half of all transactions through UPI are below IN₹200 (US$2.65). Low-value transactions utilise significant system capacity and resources, leading to customer inconvenience because of transaction failures as a result of connectivity issues. The ‘on-device’ wallet will conserve banks’ system resources without any change in the transaction experience.

Further, to encourage the use of UPI by retail investors, RBI also proposed to enhance the transaction limit for payments through UPI for Retail Direct Scheme and Initial Public Offerings (IPO) applications from IN₹200,000 (US$2,645) to IN₹500,000 (US$6,613). An official had claimed that this was an important step in widening the primary market investor base. Until now, the facility was available mainly to retail investors, who are categorised as those who invest up to US$2,645 in an IPO. By increasing the limit, the market is now open to high-net-worth Individuals (HNIs).

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