India’s UPI ready to go global?

India’s real-time retail payment system Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has been officially linked with Singapore’s PayNow, and is simultaneously finding acceptance across other markets. With this latest development, people in India & Singapore would be able to send money in real time via a QR code or via their mobile number. The initiative is expected to benefit small and medium businesses as well.


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The cross-border payment linkage system between India’s flagship payments platform, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), and Singapore’s PayNow payment system is the first Person-to-Person (P2P) payment facility collaboration for India.

The linkage was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong on 21st February 2023. It was kicked off by a live cross-border transaction between Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das and Monetary Authority of Singapore Managing Director Ravi Menon, using mobile phones.

The linkage will enable users to transfer funds in bank accounts or w-wallets to and from India using only the UPI ID, mobile number or Virtual Payment Address (VPA). Initially Indian users can remit up to ₹ 60,000 (approximately 1,000 Singapore dollars) a day.

While addressing via videoconference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated, “The linkage will provide a low-cost and real-time option for cross-border remittances between two countries. The people who will especially benefit from this are migrant workers, professionals, students and their families”.

Ever since the UPI was introduced in India, it has revolutionized the financial lives of Indians and is gradually taking over the usage of currency, even in the remotest area, smallest retail shop and for bare minimum amount.

If you are a frequent traveler to other countries, you might have faced challenges related to currencies, additional charges over exchange etc. This payment linkage will not only address the travel challenges, but also offer several other benefits as listed below:

  • Easy and faster transfer of Funds.
  • Funds will be transferred safely and directly to linked Bank account
  • Real-time fund transfers will be available for both countries leading to economic growth, cultural development.
  • It will establish a significant foundation for cross-border payments between India and ASEAN countries, creating a favorable environment for digital payments beyond borders.
  • It will boost trade between the two countries, and would benefit small and medium businesses.

Fascinated by India’s speedy digitization, the Indian digital payment system is steadily becoming globally attractive and is already being adopted by other countries:

  • Bhutan: The International arm of National Payment Corporation of India and Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) of Bhutan partnered for enabling and implementing BHIM UPI QR-based payments in Bhutan.
  • Nepal: India’s neighbor country became the first foreign nation to deploy UPI as a payment platform. With the collaboration between Nepal’s Manam Infotech and Gateway Payments Service, cross-border payments have been made operational.
  • Malaysia: Merchantrade Asia has partnered with National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) international to offer Real-Time remittances to India. It has enabled Merchantrade and its Network to connect to NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) and facilitate remittance to Beneficiary Banks in India via UPI.
  • UAE: NIPL has partnered with LuLu Financial Holding, Mashreq Bank, and Network International in UAE to enable UPI payments.

Ever since UPI was introduced as a payment system in India, it has digitized the retail market, driven by surge in smartphone sales, internet usage and more. The kickoff to India-Singapore digital payment link is likely to establish a significant foundation for cross-border payments between India and ASEAN countries, thus creating a favorable environment for digital payments beyond borders.

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