India retained the top spot in terms of digital payments in 2020 with 25.5 billion real-time payment transactions, showed a report by ACI Worldwide and GlobalData.
In 2020, the transaction volume share in India stood at 15.6 per cent and 22.9 per cent for instant payments and other electronic payments respectively, while paper-based payments had a considerable share of 61.4 per cent, it showed.
"This is poised to change by 2025 where the share of volume by instant payments and other electronic payments is expected to rise to 37.1 per cent and 34.6 per cent respectively, leaving the volume of paper-based transactions at 28.3 per cent," it said.
Furthermore, by 2024 the share of real-time payments volume in overall electronic transactions will exceed 50 per cent, according to the report.
China followed India and held the second spot with 15.7 billion transactions. South Korea took the third spot, followed by Thailand and the UK in the fourth and fifth.
"More than 70.3 billion real-time payments transactions were processed globally in 2020, a surge of 41 per cent compared to the previous year, as the Covid-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated trends away from cash and cheques towards greater reliance on real-time and digital payments," it said.
The second instalment of 'Prime-Time for Real-Time,' first launched in 2020, analyses global real-time, account-to-account payment volumes and forecasts across 48 global markets. It projects a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for real-time payments of 23.6 per cent from 2020 to 2025.
"India's journey of creating a digital financial infrastructure has been characterized by collaboration between the government, the regulator, banks and fintech. This has helped to advance the country's goal of enabling financial inclusion and also provided rapid payments digitization for citizens," said Kaushik Roy, VP and head of product management, Asia, ME and Africa, ACI Worldwide.
Roy added that the pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of digital payments with many first-time users adopting digital payments and significant uplift by merchants.
"As the industry evolves, we expect to see increased adoption across different users and volume growth is driven by mass adoption, recurring payments, transit payments as well as cross-border transactions," he added.
As the pandemic continues to drive changes in consumer and business behaviours, banks, merchants and intermediaries across the payment ecosystem are responding rapidly, prioritizing the shift to digital to protect current revenue streams, and searching for new ones through a fully digitised customer experience.
With millions of people globally having to change the way they work and live - and the way they shop and pay - mobile wallet adoption rose to a historic high of 46 per cent in 2020, up from 40.6 per cent in 2019 and 18.9 per cent in 2018. Countries like Brazil, Mexico and Malaysia where many people historically relied on cash are now some of the fastest adopters of mobile wallets.
"The pandemic has cast the spotlight on the importance of digital payments and robust payment infrastructures, condensing a decade of anticipated innovation into one year and creating human behavioural changes that will not reverse as we emerge from the crisis," said Jeremy Wilmot, Chief Product Officer, ACI Worldwide.
He was of the view that countries with a robust digital payments infrastructure already in place have coped better than those without when it comes to containing the economic impact of the pandemic.