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India’s digital payment highways are going global: Dilip Asbe

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) will conquer the world. Or so believes Dilip Asbe, the MD & CEO of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which runs and operates UPI. He insists that India can build cross-border "digital payment pipes" using UPI.  “We have solid digital payment highways in India. The government and the Reserve Bank of India are looking to build similar highways cross-border.

Our prime minister has also said that the public good of India can be the public good of the world,” shared Dilip Asbe in a recent fireside chat at TechSparks Mumbai.  Currently, Bhutan, France, Mauritius, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the UAE accept UPI. Asbe believes that any country interested in adopting the interoperable digital payment platform can do so by utilising the open APIs under India Stack. 

UPI is already a ubiquitous payment platform in India and now the world has taken notice. That is because despite being a relatively new entrant in a market of incumbents, UPI leads digital payments in India. In March 2024, UPI’s total transaction value stood at Rs 19.78 lakh and the number of transactions (payments) at 13.4 billion. However, Asbe is of the view that there is ample opportunity to grow.  “We are yet to see the actual tipping point of UPI. There is an uptake in new features, such as recurring payments of UPI, that have crossed 10 million mandates per month. The daily UPI Lite transactions are close to 1.5 million. We can see a 10X growth,” adds Asbe.  

The path to going global   NPCI and its global arm, NPCI International, are assisting the government and the RBI in taking UPI global. International entities have also signed a few partnerships with the government and the RBI.  For instance, in January 2024, Google India Digital Services and NPCI International signed an MoU to take UPI beyond India. This includes UPI payments for Indian travellers, UPI-like digital payments in other countries, and using the UPI infrastructure to simplify cross-border financial exchanges.

“If a country is interested, it can look at saving time and effort by adopting the readymade stack India has built. NPCI and NPCI International are trying to execute the vision,” Asbe explains.  And adds that the target users are Indian travellers going on international trips and the Indian diaspora living abroad. This includes enabling account-to-account transfer on a real-time basis.  Expanding reach in India Even as NPCI has a vision to take UPI to other countries, the core focus area to expand its reach in India is well intact.  

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