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What's new as NPCI gives UPI an upgrade after two years

What's new as NPCI gives UPI an upgrade after two years
(Left to right) SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar, NPCI's innovation adviser Nandan Nilekani, RBI governor Urjit Patel and NPCI non-executive chairman Biswamohan Mahapatra at the UPI 2.0 launch event on Thursday.

The country’s umbrella body for digital payments on Thursday unveiled an upgraded version of its single-window mobile payment system, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), with an eye on boosting transactions between individuals and merchants. 

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) launched UPI 2.0 at event in Mumbai on Thursday in the presence of Reserve Bank of India governor Urjit Patel, NPCI innovation adviser Nandan Nilekani and State Bank of India chairman Rajnish Kumar.

The real-time payment system, which eliminates the need for bank details or other sensitive information to initiate a transaction, now includes features such as the ability to review a merchant invoice on email before making a purchase, and a one-time mandate to pay the merchant on the actual date of purchase or after the goods and services are delivered.

Among other new features include the ability to add an overdraft account apart from savings and current accounts, and to check whether a merchant is a verified UPI user while making payments via QR code.

“We are happy to witness the revolution brought about by UPI in the last two years,” NPCI managing director and chief executive officer Dilip Asbe said in a statement. “Large number of banks, merchants, third-party players and consumers trusted this platform which resulted in substantial growth in terms of volume and value of transactions since its inception.

Eleven banks have partnered with NPCI for the latest version of UPI. These include State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, RBL Bank, YES Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank, Federal Bank and HSBC.

“The new features in UPI 2.0 will give a further push to digital payments in the e-commerce segment which still sees cash-on-delivery as the largest mode of payment by customers,” said Ramaswamy Venkatachalam, managing director-India of financial technology firm FIS.

The first iteration of UPI was launched in April 2016. Its popularity surged after the government’s push for cashless transactions in the wake of its decision to devalue 86% of the currency in circulation in late-2016.

Apart from NPCI’s flagship app, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), a number of privately-owned digital wallets have since jumped on the UPI bandwagon.

PhonePe, the digital payments arm of e-commerce major Flipkart, claimed earlier this month that it had overtaken rivals Paytm and Google's Tez to emerge as the leader in UPI transactions.

PhonePe said in a statement that it accounted for 40% (around 94 million) of the 236 million UPI transactions that took place on the platform in July. Transactions worth Rs 45,845 crore took place via UPI last month. 

Instant messaging service WhatsApp, which has more than 200 million users in India, launched a pilot of its UPI-based payments service earlier this year but regulatory hurdles have since come in the way of a full-scale rollout.

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