Credit card transaction value falls by 1 lakh crore owing to the pandemic

The value of credit card transactions has declined by Rs 1 lakh crore to Rs 7,30,895 crore in 2020-21 from Rs 6,30,414 crore in the previous year in the wake of the countrywide lockdown due to the Covid pandemic.

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) Annual Report, during 2020-21, the number of card payment transactions carried out through credit cards and debit cards decreased by 19 per cent and 20.6 per cent, respectively.

This resulted in a decrease in value of credit card transactions by 13.7 per cent and debit card transactions by 5.9 per cent during the same period, the RBI said.

The total value of credit and debit card transactions fell from Rs 14,34,814 crore to Rs 12,93,822 crore during 2020-21, the RBI said.

The RBI report said Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) recorded contraction in volume by 7.4 per cent during the year as against a growth of 15.7 per cent a year ago, while the transaction value at 1.97 lakh crore was lower by 8.3 per cent vis-à-vis last year.

The number of Points of Sale (PoS) terminals increased by 6.5 per cent to 47.20 lakh and the number of Bharat Quick Response (BQR) codes deployed increased by 76.0 per cent to 35.70 lakh as at end-March 2021.

Further, the number of ATMs marginally increased by 2.0 per cent from 2.34 lakh at end-March 2020 to 2.38 lakh at end-March 2021, the RBI said. Overall, the total digital transaction volume in 2020-21 stood at 4,371 crore as against 3,412 crore in 2019-20, attesting to the resilience of the digital payment system in the face of the pandemic, the RBI said.

The share of digital transactions in the total volume of non-cash retail payments increased to 98.5 per cent during 2020- 21, up from 97.0 per cent in the previous year, it said.

“Besides augmenting the broad-based use of technology, the pandemic has fuelled the proliferation of digital modes of payment, propelling the country towards ‘less-cash’ alternatives,” the RBI said. Digital transactions recovered from their lows in the months of the lockdown and gained traction over the rest of the year with a growing preference for contactless transactions and tailored financial offerings by fintech players to adapt to the needs of end-users, it said.

According to the RBI, transactions through National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) system rose by 12.7 per cent during the year. At the end of March 2021, the NEFT facility was available through 1,75,283 branches of 225 banks.

Further, the banknotes in circulation have been growing along with the rise in digital payments. The volume of banknotes in circulation has doubled in the last decade, from 5,654.9 crore pieces in 2009-10 to 11,597.7 crore pieces in 2019-20 and reached 12,436.7 crore pieces as on March 31, 2021, the RBI said.

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