Now, tourists from G20 countries will get to use UPI instead of cash in India
RBIannounced that inbound travellers to India from G20 countrieswill be able to use UPIfor merchant payments.
- India holds the Presidency of the G20 from December 1, 2022, to November 30, 2023.
- In January, NPCI allowed UPI platforms to onboard NRIs from 10 countries to use UPI with international mobile numbers and Indian bank accounts.
- “International visitors will get to experience digital India without the hassle of carrying cash and dealing with haggling,” said Ravi Battula, VP, merchant acquiring business, Wibmo.
AdvertisementFrom the backwaters of Kerala to the havelis of Rajasthan, there’s a lot about India that excites foreign tourists — but even in the digital age, they’re often stuck paying for these experiences in cash, especially in remote areas. India’s central bank is looking to change this situation.
On Wednesday, Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das announced that inbound travellers to India from G20 countries will be able to make payments via UPI (Unified Payments Interface).
"UPI has become hugely popular for retail digital payments in India. It is now proposed to permit all inbound travellers to India to use UPI for their merchant payments (P2M) while they are in the country. To begin with, this facility will be extended to travellers from G-20 countries arriving at select international airports,” said Das.
G20, whose presidency India took over last December, is a group of 20 nations – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
Launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in 2016, UPI is an indigenous real-time payment system that allows users to link more than one bank account in a single smartphone app and transfer funds. UPI is also compatible with most digital wallets and payment applications, like GPay, Paytm, PhonePe, and others.
There are only four things required to transfer funds via UPI: a smartphone, an active bank account, an active mobile number linked to the bank account, and an internet connection.
"This convenience will make India a more desirable destination for international travellers. Moreover, the implementation of UPI in the travel industry will reduce the risk of fraud and enhance the security of financial transactions, further increasing the appeal of India as a tourist destination," shared Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-founder, EaseMyTrip.
In January, NPCI allowed UPI platforms to onboard non-resident Indians (NRIs) from 10 countries to use UPI with international mobile numbers and Indian bank accounts. The countries are — Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and UK.
Reduce international tourists’ dependence on cash
After the pandemic-induced lockdown was lifted, India once again saw a steady influx of foreign tourists with foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in June 2022 registering a staggering 1,349% growth over June 2021.
However, international tourists travelling to India struggle with the ease of transactions. Especially in remote corners of the country where ATMs are non-existent or non-functioning – and when carrying a large volume of cash can be dangerous – digital payments are the way to go.
Ravi Battula, vice president of merchant acquiring business at
“International visitors will get to experience digital India without the hassle of carrying cash and dealing with haggling. With grass-roots enablement of UPI, this will drive higher commerce from incoming travellers while ensuring the safety of the visitors, as they won’t be carrying large amounts of cash,” added Battula.
Moreover, while card-based payment requires a point of sale (POS) terminal, digital payments through UPI only require a quick response (QR) code that’s quick and easy to scan. Simply put, through UPI, users can shop and pay bills simply by scanning a QR code to pay a person, a business, or a service provider.
“The RBI’s announcement of extending the scope of UPI to international travellers shows that UPI is making inroads globally. This facility will reduce their dependence on cash and make the process of payments easier for them,” said Anup Nayar, CEO-domestic at In-Solutions Global, a fintech venture.
UPI has today become the norm with everyone — be it a rickshaw puller, a cab driver, an online grocery app or a roadside tea stall – using it. Regulated by RBI, UPI is widely regarded as the first step by the Indian government to move towards a cashless economy.
The pandemic further pushed the adoption of UPI with people preferring digital, cashless transactions to the hassle of cash exchange. As of January 2023, 385 banks are live on UPI. Together, these banks achieved over 800 crore transactions, with a collective value of nearly ₹13 lakh crore in January 2023.
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