Covid-19 Impact: From UPI To FASTag, Digital Transactions Fall In April
Quick respond (QR) codes for Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), developed by NPCI and PayTM online payment are displayed at a roadside food stall in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Covid-19 Impact: From UPI To FASTag, Digital Transactions Fall In April

Transactions across digital payment platforms fell significantly in the month of April in response to a nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Data on digital payments released by the National Payments Corporation of India on Friday, through Twitter, showed that barring the Aadhaar Enabled Payments System, all other digital payments platforms saw a significant fall in transactions.

UPI Transactions Reverse Course

For April 2020, value of transactions on the Unified Payments Interface platform fell by 26.7 percent to Rs 1.55 lakh crore from Rs 2.02 lakh crore in March. The impact of restrictions placed to curb the spread of Covid-19 had started to show up in the data in March.

As compared to February, value of UPI transactions is down nearly 32 percent.

In terms of volumes, transactions on the platform fell to 99 crore in April compared to 125 crore in March and 133 crore in February.

The fall in the value and volume of UPI payments in April represents the largest such drop for the platform which has seen a surge in usage over the last two years.

IMPS Sees Steeper Drop

Transactions on the Immediate Payments System, which is used for larger value payments, fell by a steeper 40.1 percent to Rs 1.21 lakh crore in April 2020 compared to Rs 2.01 lakh crore in the previous month.

Compared to February, IMPS transactions are down 43 percent, the data shows.

Transactions via the Bharat Bill Payments service recorded a decline in transactions during April to a total of Rs 1,371 crore compared to Rs 1,953 crore in March and Rs 1,957 crore in February. Over the past two months, transaction volumes via Bharat Bill Pay have fallen 30 percent.

FASTag Payments Crash

Not surprisingly, the platform that saw the steepest fall in transactions was the NPCI’s FASTag or National Electronic Toll Collection platform, which is used to process payments for vehicles passing through toll plazas across highways.

Payments through the platform fell by over 80 percent to a little over one crore transactions worth Rs 247.6 crore in April compared to 8.45 crore transactions worth Rs 1,421 crore in the previous month. In February, the platform saw transactions worth Rs 1,841 crore.

Starting January, the government made it mandatory for all four wheeler passenger and goods vehicles to register and use FASTag for toll payments. Toll payments were suspended for a period during the lockdown.

Also read: NHAI To Resume Toll Collection On National Highways From April 20

The One Exception

Aadhar-enabled payments systems or AEPS were a notable exception and saw an increase in transactions. The government is using the platform to deliver a relief package, which includes cash transfers.

In April, there were over 41.15 crore AEPS transactions worth Rs 14,708 crore compared to 18.2 crore transactions worth Rs 10,170 crore in March this year. In February, the platform saw 21.6 crore transactions worth Rs 11,389 crore.

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