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More than 37,000 Users Join UPI123; RBI Plans to Go Global

Bhim UPI QR has the approval of partners in Singapore, Bhutan, the UAE and Nepal.

UPI 123
Picture used for representational purpose only. Photo credit- BHIM/ Twitter

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has taken steps to expand the availability of UPI beyond India, informed Union Minister of State for Finance Dr Bhagwat Kisnarao Kirad in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Monday.

More than 37,000 users have joined UPI123Pay Service, the digital payment service of RBI meant for feature phones, with 21,833 successful transactions taken place since its launch on March 8, 2022, added Karad.

NPCI International Payments Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), is committed to internationalising UPI. NIPL has taken a number of steps in various countries to enable the cross-border adoption of Bhim UPI or QR by various commercial organisations. These partnerships facilitate Indian tourists to pay for wholesale purchases made by them in international trade using Bhim UPI or QR.

Also Read: 123Pay Explained: RBI Opens up UPI for Feature Phones, No Internet Needed

Currently, Bhim UPI QR has the approval of partners in Singapore (March 2020), Bhutan (July 2021), and the UAE and Nepal (February 2022). However, the restrictions imposed on travel over the past two years due to Covid-19 have had an impact on the cross-border use of this facility.

“NIPL has undertaken various initiatives across nations to enable cross-border acceptance of Bhim UPI QR at merchant establishments. These partnerships will facilitate Indian travellers to make payments using the UPI QR for all their retail purchases at international merchant establishments,” said the minister.

Meanwhile, India had a considerable installed base of 320 million feature phone users last year, according to 2021 data released by Counterpoint Research. A February report by Deloitte said that there were about 750 million smartphone users in the country out of a total of 1.2 billion mobile phone subscribers in 2021.

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