Preparing backend systems to support 10B UPI transactions daily: Dilip Asbe of NPCI
NPCI is closer than ever to its target of achieving a billion transactions per day, but it doesn’t want to rest here. It is gearing up and preparing its systems for 10X growth.
Wednesday March 22, 2023,
3 min Read
India is inching closer to processing 1 billion digital transactions a day, said Dilip Asbe, CEO of the National Payments Corporation of India, adding that NPCI is preparing to handle 10 billion daily transactions.
In a fireside chat with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma at the Mumbai edition of TechSparks 2023, Asbe mentioned that the "billion-a-day target" that he had set for the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) could be 24-36 months away.
At present, NPCI processes close to 300 million UPI transactions daily. In February, it processed 7.5 billion transactions.
“When I first spoke about a billion transactions per day, we were 37 times away. But now, we are around 3.3 times away, which means we are much closer now,” he said.
Asbe also emphasised that the true potential of UPI is 10X growth from the current level.
India has around 300 million transacting users, and 150 million merchants, both of which can increase by 3 times, making a 9X growth very much possible, he added.
Tech behind the growth
NPCI makes massive investments in technology to bring together its entire digital payments infrastructure and keep it kicking all the time.
Pointing out the efforts in the backend, Asbe said NPCI is already preparing its systems for 10 billion transactions daily.
“We are already doing around 10 billion API calls per day, calls with multiple players in the ecosystem to settle UPI transactions,” Asbe said. There are typically ten hops required to settle one UPI transaction.
“We believe a lot more has to be done from a tech standpoint, from a feature standpoint,” he added.
Interestingly, while headquartered in Mumbai, NPCI has always had data and tech centres in Hyderabad and Chennai. Now, the company is building its first technology centre in Mumbai.
While Mumbai has good engineering colleges, the tech ecosystem was always there in Chennai or Hyderabad, he said. While Bengaluru had a large ecosystem, it was prohibitive in terms of cost.
“So, we have started a tech centre in Mumbai now. Let us see if we can find resources here at an affordable cost,” Asbe added.
On the technology side, NPCI is also upping its game by building its own technology. At present, the company processes more than 90% of the transactions through its systems.
Asbe pointed out that from being a net buyer of technology, from 2014-15, NPCI is now building it by itself. Over the last few years, NPCI moved into a load-balancing mode with three active servers.
UPI going global
NPCI is not resting on its laurels in India but is now taking the UPI global. Talking about the opportunity in front of the government, Asbe said India has the G20 presidency now, and the country can showcase to the world how a good public infrastructure is beneficial to society.
“We are giving the tech stack to smaller countries for free, and we are charging them for the cost we incur in implementing it,” Asbe said. “We are charging some of the small countries as low as a couple of million dollars,” he added.
These are part of the government-to-government and regulator-to-regulator connections between India and multiple other countries.
The idea is once the delegates come to India and use UPI or see the benefits of UPI, even if they do not take the stack, they can at least be inspired by the role digital public goods can play in the country.
Edited by Suman Singh