India's biggest online payments platform, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), has set a new record as the overall transactions top 10 billion a month for the first time in August. The UPI data released by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella body for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, shows a 10.58 billion transactions volume in August 2023, with the total value topping ₹15.76 lakh crore.

The UPI transactions saw 61% year-on-year growth in terms of transaction count, while 47% YoY growth was recorded in terms of transaction amount. The volume and value of UPI transactions have seen a consistent rise in recent months. In July 2023, the NPCI recorded a total UPI transaction volume of 9.96 billion, with a total value of ₹15.34 lakh crore. In June, the cumulative value and volume stood at ₹14.7 lakh crore and 9.34 billion, respectively.

PM Modi today hailed the crossing of 10 billion UPI transactions in August 2023, saying this is exceptional news! "It is a testament to the people of India embracing digital progress and a tribute to their skills. May this trend continue in the times to come."

Considering the wide popularity of UPI in India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last month proposed to launch an innovative payment mode, “Conversational Payments”, under the UPI. It will enable users to engage in a "conversation" with an "AI-powered system" to initiate and complete transactions. The move is aimed at penetrating deeper pockets of the country, which are yet to adopt UPI as a go-to payment mode due to various factors.

Additionally, the central bank also proposed to facilitate offline transactions using near-field communication (NFC) technology. This feature will not only enable retail digital payments in situations where internet or telecom connectivity is "weak or not available", but it will also ensure speed, with minimal transaction declines, says the central bank, adding that it'll issue appropriate instructions to the NPCI in this regard soon.

In a major step towards internationalisation of the UPI, countries like Japan and those from the West are also working with India towards adopting the widely popular payments system.

If implemented, Japan will be the second country after Singapore to link UPI for cross-border transactions. Additionally, India has also signed an agreement with the UAE to link the UPI platform with the Gulf country's Integrated Payment Platform (IPP).

India and Singapore had virtually launched a real-time payments link between India's UPI and PayNow of Singapore in February this year, making it the first country with which India launched a cross-border person-to-person (P2P) payment facility. The UPI-PayNow linkage enables all users of the two payment systems in either country to make convenient, safe, instant, and cost-effective cross-border money transfers using their mobile apps.

In the UPI space, three major players PhonePe, Google Pay, and Paytm command around 96% of the entire UPI transactions value.

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