In an effort to facilitate seamless cross-border transactions and reduce the cost of fund transfers and remittance payments, the Indian government has been actively promoting its successful payments system, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), in other countries.
France embraces UPI
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that France will be adopting India’s UPI system. This means that Indian tourists visiting France will soon be able to make payments in rupees using UPI, even from the iconic Eiffel Tower.
“India and France have agreed to use UPI in France. In the coming days, it will begin from the Eiffel Tower, which means Indian tourists will now be able to pay in rupees,” PM Modi stated.
This decision to allow UPI payments in France will offer significant opportunities for Indian travelers, as it eliminates the need for forex cards and the hassle of carrying cash.
Expansion of UPI in other countries
In January this year, the Indian government announced that non-resident Indians (NRIs) from 10 countries can use UPI for money transfers if their domestic bank accounts are linked to their international phone numbers. The countries included in this initiative are Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
For UPI to be used internationally, the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) has specified that only accounts complying with the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) can participate.
International linkages with UPI
Under the UPI Global initiative, NPCI has announced that by December 31, 2021, all stakeholders, including member banks, third-party application providers, and other payment providers, can offer UPI Global.
Bhutan became the first country to allow UPI transactions through the BHIM App in July 2021. NPCI International Payments Ltd (NIPL) partnered with the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan to enable UPI QR-based payments in Bhutan.
In March 2022, Nepal adopted UPI for digital transactions. NIPL collaborated with Gateway Payments Service Pvt Ltd and Manam Infotech Private Limited to deploy UPI for real-time person-to-person (P2P) and merchant payments in Nepal.
In October 2022, Oman joined hands with NPCI to integrate UPI into its payment system. The NPCI signed a formal agreement with the Central Bank of Oman for this purpose.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
In April 2022, BHIM UPI went live at NEOPAY terminals across the UAE. This allowed millions of Indians traveling to the UAE to make secure and convenient payments using BHIM UPI.
NIPL partnered with Liquid Group to enable QR-based UPI payments acceptance in 10 countries across Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. NIPL also collaborated with Merchantrade Asia to offer real-time remittances to India through the UPI platform in Malaysia.
United Kingdom (UK)
The UK and India collaborated on QR code-based transactions, with NIPL joining hands with PayXpert to build a seamless payment solutions platform in the UK. This allowed for UPI-based QR code payments and the future integration of RuPay card payments.
In February 2023, UPI formally collaborated with PayNow, Singapore’s equivalent network, to enable faster and cost-effective remittances between the two countries. Participating banks allow users to send money across borders easily via internet or mobile banking apps.
Expansion in Europe
Worldline, in partnership with NIPL, has expanded the acceptance of Indian payment methods across Europe. Target markets for NIPL include BENELUX and Switzerland, with plans for further expansion as Worldline QR is introduced in more European countries.
Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a mobile-based fast payment system introduced in India in 2016. It enables customers to make instant round-the-clock payments using a Virtual Payment Address (VPA) and supports both person-to-person (P2P) and person-to-merchant (P2M) transactions.
With the adoption of UPI by various countries, the Indian government aims to simplify cross-border transactions and enhance the convenience and affordability of international payments.