Payment Landscape in India

India's payment landscape is rapidly transforming, embracing a digital-first approach with innovative platforms like UPI, Google Pay, and PhonePe leading the way. These platforms, along with traditional credit and debit cards, are fostering financial inclusion and economic growth across the nation's vast population.

From the days of cash-dominated transactions, India has swiftly moved towards a digital-first approach.  This shift is driven by several factors, including the government's push for a cashless economy, the proliferation of smartphones, and the rise of fintech innovations.

Today, India boasts a diverse array of payment methods, each catering to the unique needs of its over 1,441 million population. As digital payments become increasingly integrated into daily life, India's payment ecosystem promotes financial inclusion and fostering economic growth.

Payment Method Distribution

Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has revolutionized the way Indians transfer money. Launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in April 2016, UPI enables instant money transfers between bank accounts through a mobile device.

Its seamless integration with various banking and non-banking apps has made UPI immensely popular in India. With approximately 300 million individuals and 50 million merchants actively using UPI, person-to-merchant transactions are projected to make up 75 percent of all UPI transactions by 2025.

Google Pay

Google Pay leverages its user-friendly interface and integration with other Google services to offer a comprehensive payment solution. As of 2024, Google Pay had over 100 million active users in India, making it one of the most popular UPI platforms in the country.


Owned by Flipkart, PhonePe has quickly gained a substantial user base with its wide range of services, from money transfers to bill payments and online shopping. By 2024, PhonePe had amassed over 150 million active users in the country, highlighting its rapid growth and extensive reach.


Originally a mobile wallet, Paytm has evolved into a full-fledged financial services platform, offering UPI payments alongside its other services. As of 2024, Paytm had more than 80 million active UPI users, benefiting from its early entry into the digital payment market and its broad service offerings.

Additionally, users can leverage Paytm for secure peer-to-peer money transfers, even if they do not have a UPI account. The platform also has features like Paytm Postpaid, which allows users to make purchases on credit, as well as the ability to invest in digital gold.

Mobile Wallets

Mobile wallets were among the first digital payment methods to gain traction in India. These wallets store money digitally and allow users to make payments for a variety of services.

Mobile wallets leverage technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC), QR codes, and Bluetooth to facilitate transactions at physical points of sale, online stores, and for peer-to-peer payments.


Known for its secure and user-friendly interface, Mobikwik offers services ranging from mobile recharges to bill payments and money transfers. As of 2024, Mobikwik had approximately 120 million users, making it one of the leading mobile wallet providers in India.


Acquired by Axis Bank, FreeCharge has maintained its presence in the market by offering cashback and rewards to its users. By 2024, FreeCharge had around 50 million users, leveraging its loyalty programs to retain and attract customers.

QR Code Payments

QR code payments have become ubiquitous in India, thanks to their simplicity and ease of use. This versatile technology has been embraced by a wide range of businesses, from small street vendors to large retailers, transforming the payment landscape across the country. 

Their adoption has empowered small businesses and local vendors, enabling them to offer digital payment options without the need for expensive point-of-sale systems. Meanwhile, large retailers appreciate the streamlined transaction process and the ability to quickly serve customers.


An interoperable QR code solution developed by NPCI, BharatQR allows users to make payments from multiple banking apps without requiring a specific app. Supported by a wide range of banks, including major national and regional financial institutions, BharatQR has been adopted by millions of merchants across India.

As of 2024, BharatQR's integration into various banking ecosystems has significantly boosted digital payment adoption, with millions of users leveraging this technology for everyday transactions, further driving the shift towards a cashless economy.

Credit and Debit Cards

Despite the rise of digital wallets and UPI, credit and debit cards remain a popular payment method in India. Their convenience and sense of security, especially for larger transactions and online shopping, make them indispensable to many users.

Credit and debit cards offer several advantages, such as rewards programs, cash-back offers, and the ability to track spending, which enhance their appeal. As of 2024, there were over 925 million debit cards and around 70 million credit cards in circulation, demonstrating their continued importance in the financial ecosystem.

The robust infrastructure supporting card payments, including widespread acceptance at both physical and online merchants, further cements their role in India’s financial landscape. On top of that, banks and financial institutions continually innovate with card services and their benefits.


As one of India's leading banks, HDFC Bank offers a range of credit and debit cards with various benefits such as cashback, rewards, and travel perks. HDFC Bank has over 50 million debit card users and around 12 million credit card holders, making it a dominant player in the card market.


Another major player, ICICI Bank provides a variety of card options tailored to different customer needs, from shopping to travel and dining. ICICI Bank market presence boasts approximately 40 million debit card users and 10 million credit card holders.

SBI (State Bank of India)

The State Bank of India (SBI) has over 300 million debit card users and around 8 million credit card holders, underscoring its extensive reach and reliability. SBI offers a wide range of cards with benefits like rewards points, discounts, and fuel surcharge waivers.