Value of debit and credit card usage dropped 24% in March 2020 to Rs 1.15 lakh crore from the Rs 1.5 lakh crore registered just two months earlier in January. The number of card swipes also fell 20% to 53.5 crore this March from 66.5 crore in January.
The numbers seem to indicate that consumer activity came to a standstill during the last week of March, which saw the lockdown begin. Debit card usage at point-of-sales (PoS) machines fell 30% to Rs 27,238 crore in March, compared to Rs 38,907 crore in January, showing Indians are using their cards less often at stores. Credit card usage at PoS machines declined 26% to Rs 26,656 crore in March, compared to Rs 35,124 crore in January.
Debit card usage for e-commerce and online payments fell 17% to Rs 38,065 crore in March over the same period, while credit card usage online declined 24% to Rs 23,918 crore.
Compared to last year, the fall in card payments is 71% to Rs 1.15 lakh crore this March. According to bankers, e-commerce transactions — other than utility bill payments and purchase of essentials — did not take place in March due to the lockdown, resulting in the drop in online usage.
March ATM withdrawals also fell 13% year-over-year to Rs 2.5 lakh crore. In terms of volume of transactions, decline has been sharper at 62% to 54.7 crore this March from Rs 89 crore last year. The average ticket size of withdrawal rose to Rs 4,587 this March compared to Rs 3,235 last year.
Since the RBI started publishing micro-ATM withdrawals only this February, last year’s comparable figure is not available. So, month-on-month, cash withdrawals at micro-ATMs fell 11% to Rs 11,201 crore in March, compared to February. In terms of volumes also, there was a 12% decline to 3.4 crore and banks said this is indicative of a slump in rural areas as micro-ATMs are primarily used by banking correspondents to cater to rural customers.
The National Automated Clearing House (NACH) — which handles e-mandates like insurance payments, advance tax, EMI for loans, etc — saw a 24% year-on year fall to Rs 1.31 lakh crore from Rs 1.63 lakh crore. Banks said this could be due to a number of reasons, such as deferment or non-payment of premiums, EMIs, tax and no-new takers for loans and insurance.
ECS — which is slightly similar to NACH in facilitating electronic clearing and auto-debits — did not have comparable year-over-year numbers. But for March, ECS transactions fell 11% to Rs 7,951 crore from Rs 8,889 crore in February. And in terms of volume, ECS dipped to 12.9 crore from 14 crore month-on-month. E-wallets saw a 22% decline year-on-year to Rs 14,461 crore this March.
TOI earlier reported the economic impact of the lockdown is being reflected in a sharp drop in retail interbank transfers under the Immediate Payment System (IMPS) and UPI for the month of April. IMPS transactions halved to 12.2 crore in April from 24.7 crore in February and UPI transactions dropped to 100 crore from 132 crore for the same period.