RBI and NPCI want to expand UPI to 20 countries by FY29.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and NPCI International Payments (NIPL) have set an ambitious aim of expanding the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to 20 countries by fiscal year 2029, according to the RBI’s FY24 annual report. This effort is scheduled to commence in fiscal year 25 and demonstrates the central bank’s commitment to expanding India’s digital payment infrastructure’s global reach.

The RBI report noted the amazing performance of UPI, which has grown to become India’s largest retail payment system in terms of transaction volume. Innovations such as UPI123Pay, UPI Lite, RuPay credit card linkage, and additional mandate processing functions have considerably improved UPI’s functionality and usability.

In FY24, UPI gained new features such as conversational payments, offline transactions using near field communication (NFC) technology, and bank-sanctioned credit lines. These modifications are intended to strengthen UPI’s status as a premier payment system and allow worldwide expansion. 

The RBI and NIPL’s strategy involves pursuing multilateral linkages and collaboration prospects with European Union countries and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The Payments Vision Document 2025 mentions international expansion of UPI and RuPay cards as a vital goal. Discussions with various central banks are underway to form joint agreements.

Recent developments show the efforts made in broadening UPI’s reach. In July 2023, the RBI and the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to connect India’s UPI to the UAE’s Instant Payment Platform (IPP), Aani. Furthermore, in February 2024, UPI and RuPay connectivity were opened between India and Mauritius, and a similar link was made with Sri Lanka, allowing seamless QR code-based payments.

The RBI is also looking into linking UPI with Nepal’s National Payments Interface to facilitate cross-border payments. In June 2023, NIPL and Nepal Clearing House Ltd. (NCHL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote this unification.

Currently, UPI payments are accepted for commercial transactions in France and Nepal, and India has UPI payment agreements with seven nations. This global growth is part of India’s bigger vision of “Viksit Bharat 2047,” which seeks to establish the country as a global leader in digital payments. 

In addition to growing UPI worldwide, the RBI is working to improve the security and efficiency of the payments ecosystem. This includes looking into alternative risk-based authentication techniques such as behavioral biometrics, digital tokens, and real-time payee name validation to replace the standard SMS-based one-time password (OTP) approach.

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