Unified Payments Interface (UPI)-based payment transactions saw a decline in March for the first time in six months. The dip is likely due to the Covid-19 lockdown announced by the central government.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) processed 1.25 billion UPI transactions in March, the digital payments regulator said in a tweet -- 6% lower than the 1.33 billion transactions in February.
In currency terms, the total number of UPI transactions in the country were valued at Rs 2,06,000 crore in March, the tweet said. The transactions have declined 7% in value terms compared to Rs 2,22,000 crore in February.
The number of UPI transactions were on a month-on-month rise at least since September.
The NPCI on March 25 issued an advisory to use digital payment methods to avoid direct contact with other people to curb the spread of Coronavirus. It also fast-tracked the UPI onboarding process for new merchants and launched a campaign, UPI Chalega, to promote its use.
“In the current lockdown situation, we request citizens to stay at home. We urge all service providers of essential services and consumers to switch to digital payments methods to stay protected,” Dilip Asbe, managing director and CEO of the NPCI, had said in a separate statement.
The UPI platform enables users to access multiple bank accounts on a single mobile application, allowing fund transfers and merchant payments. Since its pilot in 2016 where 21 banks participated, the NPCI has expanded to host 143 banks on its platform now.
Last year, the NPCI launched UPI 2.0, which provides users additional features such as linking of overdraft account, one-time mandate, invoice in the inbox, signed intent and QR code.
Founded in 2008, the NPCI is an umbrella organisation to operate retail payments and settlement systems. Its other offerings include RuPay Card, Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), BHIM Aadhaar, National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) and Bharat BillPay.