Digital Payments, The Need Of The Hour In This Pandemic

Outlook Money|June 2020

Digital Payments, The Need Of The Hour In This Pandemic
The government is actively pushing people to adopt digital payments at present. If earlier, it was for convenience, now with social distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis, it has become mandatory, says Dilip Asbe, MD & CEO, NPCI in a freewheeling interview with Arindam Mukherjee. Edited excerpts:
Dilip Asbe

What kind of growth has the digital payments industry seen in the last two months, ever since the pandemic and lockdown have started?

The offline-to-online switch in payments has been long in coming, however there has been an accelerated shift in consumer behaviour in the recent lockdown scenario due to COVID-19. NPCI has been urging and reaching out to consumers and all service providers of essential services to switch to digital payment methods to stay protected. We are seeing growth in essential categories, online donations, and entertainment on the OTT medium. There has been a dip in volumes as discretionary spends, and some of the segments like travel, hospitality are near to zero.

We are also working with several ecosystem players who are looking at innovative solutions to solve the current problems.

The first big wave was post demonetization when we saw a large scale adoption of digital payments. The second big wave came during the pandemic and lockdown. do we see a larger adoption of digital payments?

The current situation calls for digital payments. Earlier, digital payments were about convenience but in this environment, it is practically mandatory from the safety point of view. That is why the government and Reserve Bank of India are pushing for it continuously. We will eventually come out of the lockdown but to get back to normal will take some time. Just like people will continue to wear masks and wash their hands, it will be equally important to use digital payments.

In the current environment of social distancing, we have initiated #IndiaPaySafe through our on-going ‘UPI Chalega’ campaign, to create awareness about paying safe with digital payments. We hope we can encourage a lot of people, who have been used to handling cash, to switch to digital payments and cultivate a habitual change. The campaign drives a broader message across the public in terms of using UPI as an easy, safe and instant way for digital payments. We have also tried to use certain celebrities to push the cause. We have created UPIChalega.com microsite, where all useful information on how to use UPI safely can be found. We ran a challenge on Tiktok and it attracted over eight billion views.

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June 2020