Mumbai: India moved closer to a cashless future on Thursday with four banks introducing unified payments interface-based (UPI-based) apps that will make it possible for customers to make everyday payments with just a few taps on their smartphones.
Axis Bank Ltd, Union Bank of India, Federal Bank Ltd and Bank of Maharashtra on Thursday went live with National Payments Corporation of India’s (NPCI’s) UPI apps on the Google Play Store.
The UPI system will allow customers to safely and instantaneously transfer funds almost as easily as they send a text message.
The system uses a single identifier that eliminates the need to exchange sensitive information such as bank account numbers or credit card details during a financial transaction.
“It is ideal for high-frequency and low-value transactions,” said Vivek Belgavi, partner, financial services, fintech and technology consulting leader, PwC India. It “will make peer-to-peer transactions and peer-to-merchant transactions simpler. You will see waves of adoption but education will be critical”.
The UPI system will be available only for bank customers with Android smartphones initially. Union Bank’s UPI app, Federal Bank’s Lotza, Axis Bank’s Axis Pay and Bank of Maharashtra’s MahaUPI apps are now UPI-enabled.
Versions for Apple’s iOS operating system will take up to six months to go live.
“RBI gave us the approval for a public launch and we have asked banks to upload their UPI-enabled apps within the next 2-3 working days. Once the apps are placed in the application store, customers should be able to start using it,” said A.P. Hota, managing director and chief executive of NPCI.
NPCI issued letters to the banks on Wednesday night asking them to make the apps available on Google Play Store.
The UPI-enabled apps of 19 banks, including ICICI Bank Ltd, Canara Bank and Andhra Bank, will be available on the Google Play Store for customers to download in the next 2-3 working days.
IDBI Bank Ltd and RBL Bank Ltd customers will be able to link their account to any UPI-enabled apps for making payments and sending money.
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NPCI has permitted only those banks with 1,000 pilot customers, 5,000 transactions and a success rate of around 80% or more to go live.
In the next 3-6 weeks, lenders such as State Bank of India, HDFC Bank Ltd and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd are likely to go live with UPI-enabled apps.
“This is the first phase of UPI apps. The second phase will see more banks joining the UPI system. We are going live on the app store today (Thursday) evening with Axis Pay app. We have already sent out the app for upload and usually it takes 4-6 hours to show up on the app store. If you are our customer or a customer of any bank that is part of the NPCI list of banks released today, you will be able to do a transaction,” said Sangram Singh, head, cards and payments business, Axis Bank.
Once launched, ICICI Bank’s UPI system will be available on its new version of its existing iMobile app and Pockets app. While Axis Bank and ICICI Bank are enabling UPI on their existing apps, Kotak Mahindra Bank will provide UPI on a new app.
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“We are in the process of development and certification of UPI-enabled app. We will be launching a new app for it as we believe that there are different use cases for payment process. It should be out in 4-6 weeks,” said Deepak Sharma, chief digital officer, Kotak Mahindra Bank.
There is no first-mover advantage, Sharma said.
“For UPI to take off, payment transactions need to happen. Also right now, education and adoption will be required. It will take time before seeing a larger adoption,” he added.
UPI is built on the immediate payment service (IMPS) platform and, hence, fund transfer will be possible 24X7. The upper limit of a transaction through the UPI system isRs.1 lakh. Axis Bank has currently set a Rs.50,000 limit. NPCI will earn 25 paise per transaction and the payment service provider will earn 50 paise per transaction.
How it works
Any Android smartphone user who has an account with a UPI-partnered bank can download the app to make person-to-person and e-commerce transactions with the use of a virtual address such as [email protected] or [email protected]
“You just need to download the app, set the PIN, create a virtual address and link any account of any bank that has partnered with NPCI for UPI service,” said Axis Bank’s Singh.
Here, the customer doesn’t have to disclose any sensitive information such as bank account number or IFSC code during a financial transaction.