In 2005, the Reserve Bank of India published a vision document suggesting a series of action plans, including the idea of setting up an umbrella institution that would be responsible for producing and managing all retail payment systems in India. At that time, there were several different payment mechanisms, all with varying levels of service.

The Reserve Bank believed that it would be beneficial for the people of India to have these integrated and consolidated under one payment system organisation as the high volumes would bring down costs considerably.

A.P. Hota had been with the Reserve Bank of India working hands-on in various departments, but perhaps most significantly he spent 27 years, between 1982-2009, in its department for the design and implementation of payment systems in India. Not surprisingly, the Reserve Bank chose Hota to lead the team to establish the new umbrella institution, which was to be called National Payments Corporation India (NPCI). “I was invited to do the initial work for starting up the organisation, getting regulatory clearances, formation of the board, creating the organisation structure, building the business plan and hiring the right staff,” Hota says. “I laid the basic foundation work for 18 months and then the organisation decided it wanted a permanent CEO, so they appointed me in August 2010.”

NPCI started operations on a small scale — processing 1.6 million transactions per day, mostly the interbank ATM transactions. “Over 6 years, we have seen it grow exponentially,” Hota says.

“Now we are doing close to 25 million transactions per day.” A lot of this growth is due to the fact that NPCI has launched several new products over the years. It started with interbank ATM clearing, then the product portfolio expanded to national-level cheque clearing, electronic funds transfer, an automated clearinghouse system, and setting up of a domestic card payment network called RuPay.