Digital transactions have gained new heights in the month of March as India announced a lockdown due to coronavirus. The total value of Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) transactions also witnessed a spike by 34% during the same time, according to the latest Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, The Indian Express reported. RTGS is the biggest online payment method offered by the central bank and its total value rose to Rs 120.47 lakh crore in March 2020, as against Rs 89.90 lakh crore in February 2020. On the other hand, cash and cash based services reported a decline with ATM withdrawals and usage of various cards (debit, credit) witnessing a significant dip, the newspaper cited banking industry sources as saying.
As India announced a lockdown on 23rd March which was preceded by a Janta Curfew, digital financial transactions reported a momentum on the third and fourth week of the month. Many multinational corporations and smaller companies had by then started giving their employees the option to work from home and other social distancing norms were also in place by then to control the spread of coronavirus.
While India witnessed a total volume of 552.26 crore digital transactions in March, a majority of these were reported in the third and fourth week. In the first week, these transactions stood at 107.78 crore, at 95.57 crore in the second week, and at 124.73 crore and 224.16 crore in the third and fourth week, respectively. The lockdown has been in place since 24th March and was extended from the earlier deadline of 14 April to 3 May.
“The spending on utilities grew by 53% in March, as people were taking precautions and staying indoors. The spending on online groceries grew by as much as 18 per cent during mid-March as people started stocking up on essentials,” Harshil Mathur, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Razorpay, told the newspaper. Other transactions, such as for donation purposes, also witnessed a spike.