Ever since the launch of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the payment system has become the talk of the town and every other tech company is planning to come out with their own services based on UPI. Truecaller was one of the first tech companies to bring UPI-based services a few months back, WhatsApp is being rumored to bring their own service, and the recent reports suggest that Google will also be launching a UPI-based payment service soon.
However, Google has a reason to take advantage of UPI as it already has a payment arm that is yet to be launched in India. Android Pay is quite a popular mobile payment service in the west and it has still not been launched in India, despite the country being one of the biggest markets. The recently launched Samsung Pay Mini, the stripped-down version of Samsung Pay, also works with UPI and a few e-wallets.
In case you’re wondering, UPI is a payment system launched by the Government of India that allows bank-to-bank instant transfers using a smartphone app or USSD on feature phones. The receiver of the amount is identified by his/her Virtual Payment Address (VPA) or a username associated with their bank account, eliminating the need to enter the bank details each time a payment is to be initiated. This is more like sending a message or tweeting to someone, hence the interest of all the tech giants.
AP Hota, MD & CEO, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the government body that handles all the retail payments in the country, informed that Google has already completed testing of its UPI-based payment service. He added that the company had applied for a final nod from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) a couple of days back.
He also informed that Facebook and WhatsApp are also in talks with the officials to get their payment services kickstarted. Google should be the first one to launch such service among the three as the other two are still in preliminary discussions. Google might launch the service as a separate app, he added, while Facebook and WhatsApp are expected to offer the UPI payment service through their existing apps itself.
Hota said that the three companies are technically capable enough to make a viable product, but the central bank will have to take a broader look at the proposals from these tech giants to figure out other risks involved if any. The country targets to achieve 25 billion digital payments during the FY18; last year, the number stood at 9.2 billion and 3.5 billion of these transactions went through NPCI.