In a move aimed at revolutionising India's digital payment landscape, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das, in partnership with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), unveiled a suite of financial products, according to a press release issued by NPCI on Wednesday. These offerings, unveiled during the Global Fintech Fest 2023 and in the presence of industry leaders, are set to create an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable digital payments ecosystem.
The first product in this revolutionary lineup is the "Credit Line on UPI." Designed to promote financial inclusion and innovation, this offering aims to simplify credit access for individuals and businesses. Pre-sanctioned credit lines from banks will be made available via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), streamlining the credit application and utilisation process.
Key features of this initiative include integrating pre-sanctioned credit lines, creating digital credit products by banks, interest-free credit periods, defined charges, and user-friendly channels for credit sanction requests. Furthermore, customers can link multiple pre-sanctioned credit lines through UPI-enabled apps for seamless transactions. This move ensures that all UPI apps, including those from third-party providers, will offer end-to-end customer services related to credit lines.
To address connectivity challenges in certain areas, the RBI Governor announced "UPI LITE X," enabling offline payments via UPI. Users can now send and receive money without an internet connection, making digital transactions accessible even in remote locations with poor connectivity. UPI LITE X will be compatible with devices supporting Near Field Communication (NFC), ensuring swift and hassle-free transactions.
In addition to UPI LITE X, the introduction of "UPI Tap & Pay" signifies a significant leap in QR code and NFC technology adoption. Users can now complete payments by tapping NFC-enabled QR codes at merchant locations, providing a convenient and efficient payment method.
The final announcements, "Hello! UPI - Conversational Payments on UPI" and "BillPay Connect - Conversational Bill Payments," introduce groundbreaking AI-enabled features.
Hello! UPI - Conversational Payments on UPI allows users to make voice-enabled UPI payments using UPI apps, telecom calls, and IoT devices, initially available in Hindi and English and soon expanding to regional languages. This innovation aims to enhance accessibility for senior citizens and digitally inexperienced individuals, making payments as simple as giving voice commands and entering a UPI PIN.
BillPay Connect - Conversational Bill Payments offers a nationalised number for bill payments across India. Customers can now fetch and pay bills by simply sending a 'Hi' on messaging apps. For those without smartphones or immediate mobile data access, bill payment is possible via a missed call, followed by a callback for verification and authorisation. Additionally, this feature includes Voice Assisted Bill Payments, allowing customers to manage bills through voice commands on smart home devices, with instant voice confirmations.
The introduction of these conversational payment methods underscores a paradigm shift in human-machine interaction, bringing the convenience of AI-enabled transactions to the forefront and deepening the reach of digital payments in India, according to the press release.
During a recent state visit to France, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Indian visitors can make UPI payments there. Modi said the Indian government has made an agreement with France for UPI payments.
A Vision For Global UPI Usage
PM Modi's declaration reflects the growing influence and widespread acceptance of India's homegrown innovation, the UPI. This ingenious digital payment system has reshaped financial transactions within India and is now setting its sights on a global stage. UPI's journey from its inception to becoming a vital component of India's digital economy is a testament to the nation's technological prowess.
Says Rahul Jain, CFO of NTT DATA Payment Services India: "The indigenous UPI solution is steadily gaining international appeal and is poised to garner even wider acceptance in foreign markets, driving the surge in cross-border transactions. To meet the demands of Indian travellers abroad, the Indian government has extended UPI services to several international countries, simplifying transactions for NRIs and reducing the costs of fund transfers and remittance payments. Experts predict a surge in transaction volumes, further bolstering the platform's global presence."
The extension of UPI services to international countries is a strategic move to empower Indian travellers. By allowing UPI-based transactions abroad, the Indian government is providing a practical solution to a common problem faced by globe-trotting Indians: the need for accessible and seamless payment methods. This move is set to simplify transactions for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), making fund transfers and remittance payments more efficient and cost-effective.
The Global Acceptance Of UPI
The ripple effect of UPI's success within India is evident in its growing acceptance on the global stage. Countries like France, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Oman, UAE, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Europe have embraced UPI payments. The integration of UPI into the payment systems of these nations not only facilitates transactions but also exemplifies India's technological acumen.
Expanding Horizons: UPI's Next Ventures
The story doesn't end here. The Indian government's efforts to extend UPI's reach far beyond its borders have been met with remarkable success. Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) have been signed with 13 countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan. These MOUs signal a shared enthusiasm for incorporating UPI into their digital payment ecosystems.
Furthermore, negotiations are underway with New Zealand and several African countries, including Namibia, Mozambique, and Kenya, to introduce UPI as a transformative payment solution. Nepal has already taken the lead by embracing UPI as its payment platform, becoming the pioneer among foreign nations.
"To make UPI payments abroad, users must link their bank account with a UPI-enabled mobile application. Once the bank account is linked, users must provide the recipient details, including their bank account number, International Bank Account Number (IBAN), and Bank Identifier Code (BIC). Then, the user must specify the transfer amount and select the currency. After all the verification, authentication, and transaction authorisation are done, Indian travellers can instantly transfer money to account holders from partner countries, using UPI as a payment platform. The travellers can now experience the convenience of easy, seamless, and hassle-free UPI transactions wherever they go," says Jain.
Paving The Way For Digital India On A Global Scale
According to experts, as UPI transcends geographical boundaries, it not only transforms the financial landscape for Indian tourists but also contributes to the larger vision of a Digital India. The success story of UPI showcases India's technological innovation and reinforces its role as a global tech leader.