United Arab Emirates - India

India’s UPI digital payment makes foray into UAE

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India’s NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), has partnered with Network International, a leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, to accept QR code-based Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments using Network’s point-of-sale terminals in the UAE.

The partnership is expected to strengthen the existing UPI merchant acceptance network in the United Arab Emirates while facilitating cross-border merchant transactions for Indians traveling to the region. By allowing UPI acceptance through its point-of-sale (POS) terminals, Network International will provide a QR-based method for facilitating cross-border payments, enabling Indian tourists and non-resident Indians with Indian bank accounts to use UPI for payments across the Network’s POS terminals in the UAE.

“By growing UPI payment acceptance across merchants in the UAE, we are not only providing Indian travellers with a seamless and familiar payment experience, but also promoting the use of innovative digital payment solutions internationally. This collaboration exemplifies our commitment to driving technological advancement and creating a more connected global payment ecosystem,” Ritesh Shukla, chief executive of NPCI International, said in a statement.

Launched in 2016, UPI has become popular as a single mobile application for accessing different bank accounts. It has expanded to Peru, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Singapore, France, Bhutan and Nepal, processing over 13 billion monthly transactions.

The number of Indian tourists traveling to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is projected to increase to 9.8 million in 2024, with the UAE anticipating 5.29 million arrivals from India, according to the statement.

Network International said it is Middle East and Africa’s largest digital payments company, operating in over 50 countries, serving governments, banks, fintechs, merchants and public sector companies. Network International has over 2,000 employees serving over 200 financial institutions and about 120,000 merchants.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been discussing further expanding the reach of UPI with major stakeholders in the ecosystem, including banks, NPCI, third-party application providers, and technology service providers.

“There were wide-ranging discussions on various aspects to widen and deepen the adoption and usage of UPI,” the central bank said.

The wide success of UPI has given tough competition to India’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), with the RBI struggling to push popularity for the e-rupee.

“While the number of [CBDC] transactions have reached a high of 1 million a day, we still see preference for UPI among the retail users. We, of course, hope that this will change going forward,” Das said in May.

“We have leveraged the existing merchant infrastructure on the UPI to facilitate CBDC transactions. We have also enabled interoperability of CBDC with UPI,” Das added.

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