Global card companies like Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. are losing market share to upstarts in the world\u2019s most innovative payments market: India. Transactions through India\u2019s homegrown Unified Payments Interface - which allows mobile apps run by retailers, airlines and other firms to take payment directly from bank accounts - reached almost half the value of debit and credit cards swiped at stores last month, central bank data show. The surge in UPI transactions has taken place since 2016 when the interface was set up by an umbrella organization of Indian banks. Mastercard, in contrast, has built up its business in India over three decades. \u201cThe introduction of UPI in August 2016 led to the creation of a wealth of new innovative payment solutions, and the adoption rates of UPI payments are truly spectacular,\u201d U.S.-based Fidelity National Information Services Inc. said in a December 2017 report. UPI \u201copens up access to real-time by allowing payments to be directly integrated into external business applications,\u201d it said. India\u2019s payments system was alone among more than 40 countries tracked by Fidelity National to gain a top score of five for innovation and customer value. China\u2019s Internet Banking Payment System scored two and Kenya\u2019s PesaLink scored four. Criteria included round-the-clock availability, speed of settlement, and level of government or regulator support. Amazon.com Inc. and Jet Airways India Ltd. - the nation\u2019s second-biggest airline by passengers - are among firms that have integrated UPI into their apps in order to take payment from customers. Ola, a local rival to Uber Technologies Inc., Big Bazaar, a chain of stores run by billionaire Kishore Biyani, and incumbent mobile wallet leader Paytm Mobile Solutions Pvt. are other users. Facebook Inc. is piloting a payments service in India with a UPI backbone for its WhatsApp Pay, which has already drawn comparisons with the way WeChat reshaped payments in China. \u201cPayment integration into popular apps in India will drive the digital payments market to $1 trillion over the next five years," Credit Suisse Group AG said in a report last month. \u201cWith 800 million bank accounts now linked, the bulk is mobile-transaction ready.\u201d Currently, India\u2019s payments market is worth less than $200 billion, dwarfed by China\u2019s $27 trillion market that\u2019s now opening up to global players. One challenge in India is the dominance of cash, which accounts for some 70 percent of the country\u2019s total transactions by value. However, China transitioned to digital on the back of rising mobile and data penetration, and that process was hastened by e-commerce and social platforms, according to Credit Suisse. The same shift may play out in India, where data usage for 300 million Indian smartphone users rose to 5-10 GB a month from 1GB last year. Advances in India\u2019s digital payments market picked up pace after Prime Minister Narendra Modi\u2019s shock decision to invalidate 86 percent of the country\u2019s currency in circulation. \u201cWhile the effects of the demonetization event of November 2016 are now waning, it would be safe to conclude that the event has caused a permanent uplift in the share of non-cash transactions in the economy,\u201d said Credit Suisse.