Digital transactions witnessed a fairly big increase last year, partly driven by demonetisation and the accompanying shortage of cash. The value of transactions made through the immediate payments system (IMPS) in 2016-17 jumped nearly 154%, or more than two-and-a-half times, to Rs 4.11 lakh crore, according to data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
IMPS was one of the payment channels that saw a spurt in usage as a result of the government’s surprise move to withdraw high-value currency notes on November 8 and the cash crunch that followed. The other big beneficiary of the move was the prepaid payment instrument (PPI), which saw the aggregate value of transactions rise 71% over FY16 to Rs 83,868 crore. The PPI category is comprised of mobile wallets, prepaid cards and paper vouchers. The value of credit and debit card transactions at point-of-sale (PoS) machines rose nearly 69% between FY16 and FY17 to Rs 6.56 lakh crore.
Card usage at ATMs dropped 6.6% in value terms to Rs 23.74 lakh crore, while remaining significantly higher than the figure for PoS usage. PoS transaction values peaked at Rs 89,180 crore in December before slipping in both January and February. March saw a 6.7% rise in PoS transaction values to Rs 68,586 crore. Since December, the value has remained consistently higher than the Rs 51,883-crore of PoS transactions recorded in the pre-demonetisation festival month of October.
The value of remittances made through the National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) channel also grew a little over 44% year-on-year to `120.04 lakh crore in FY17. Data on the two other channels of retail digital remittances and payments — Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) — is unavailable for the full year as these were launched in the middle of the year. Figures for UPI and USSD could push up the overall figures for digital payments.