Digital transactions in the country zoomed 44 percent to record Rs 149.52 lakh crore in March in comparison to December 2016 peak — when demonetisation sucked high-denomination currency out of circulation.
Digital transactions made through credit/debit cards, IMPS (Immediate Payment Service), NEFT (National Electronic Funds Transfer), UPI (unified payments interface), USSD (unstructured supplementary service data), prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) and mobile banking topped the previous peak of Rs 104.05 lakh crore clocked in December, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data shows.
Besides value, digital volumes too picked pace after a blip in January and February. RBI’s provisional data reveals 890.1 million transactions in March against the previous peak of 957.5 million transactions in December.
March, being the last month of a financial year, usually sees more B2B (business-to-business) transactions and the pickup in volumes and value of digital transfers can be partly attributed this, experts said.
"The RTGS and NEFT to some extent can be because of B2B transactions, but if you see there is an increase in the IMPS, UPI and wallet transactions as well which are largely retail," said Vivek Belgavi, Partner, FinTech and Technology Consulting Leader, PwC.
"With more digital initiatives like the digital PoS, and more consumer-friendly BHIM app will be important for the digital adoption during the next quarter," he added.
The government and RBI’s pet project UPI witnessed a 26 percent growth from February and 44 percent from January to 6.2 million transactions worth Rs 2,390 crore in March. In February, UPI transactions stood at 4.2 million valued at Rs 1,900 crore.
Debit and credit card transactions at point-of-sale (PoS) machines grew at a slower pace with a marginal rise of 5 percent from the previous month at Rs 41,060 crore. This was still much lower than its peak in December at Rs 52,220 crore, which declined by 8 percent.
Mobile banking transactions too increased by 8 percent in March to 60.5 million from 56.2 million in February. In value terms, the increase was 39 percent. The only blip was fall in USSD — using a features phone — by 6 percent in March compared with February, after a peak in January.
The government’s foot is not off the pedal yet. The critical wave of adoption will come from more consumer-friendly apps, more businesses using the digital channels and a lot of government initiatives such as smart city projects, PDS (public distribution system) or DBT (direct benefit transfer) using the alternate channels of making payments, Belgavi said.