ACI Worldwide released a new report that indicated 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.

This comes as the Covid-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated trends away from cash and cheques towards greater reliance on real-time and digital payments, according to the report.

For the study, the company analysed global real-time, account-to-account payment volumes and forecasts across 48 global markets. It projected a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for real-time payments of 23.6 percent from 2020 to 2025.

According to the report, India retained the top spot with 25.5 billion real-time payments transactions, followed by China with 15.7 bn transactions.

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.

The report speculated that by 2024 the share of real-time payments volume in overall electronic transactions will exceed 50 per cent. This will further touch 71.7 per cent by 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 payment digitization for citizens. The pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of digital payments with many first-time users adopting digital payments and significant uplift by merchants,” said Kaushik Roy, VP, and head of product management, Asia, ME, and Africa, ACI Worldwide.

He added: “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.”

Global trend

The report noted that 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.

On a global level, the total number of real-time transactions in 2020 was 70.3 billion, up 41 per cent from 50.0 billion in 2019.

Payment fraud

Globally, card-related fraud remains the highest in terms of reported incidents from consumers. However, fraud incidents associated with real-time payments were on the rise from 2019 to 2020 as fraudsters tend to target new channels.

Real-time payments scams that were on the rise include confidence tricks (12.5 per cent rising to 13.7 per cent), Identity theft (6 per cent rising to 11.6 per cent) and digital wallet account hacks (4.4 per cent rising to 6.2 per cent).