The much-hyped Unified Payments Interface (UPI) went live for customers of many banks on Thursday. However, the country’s largest lender, State Bank of India, will join the UPI platform about a month later.
The brainchild of Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, UPI is expected to revolutionise the way consumers make payments.
Apps of all the 21 banks, which have been permitted by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), will be available on Google Play Store within three days, NPCI executives told Business Standard. UPI apps of Axis Bank, Union Bank of India, Vijaya Bank and United Bank of India were available on the Google Play Store on Thursday evening.
Thursday’s launch came more than a month after the original NPCI deadline of July 31 because most banks took longer-than-expected to get technology-ready.
The launch had to be deferred as NPCI had said that only lenders that had 1,000 pilot customers, 5,000 transactions and 90 per cent success rate would be allowed to go live. Initially, 29 banks had tied up with NPCI for the launch. However, only 21 banks have been able to meet the criteria so far.
Banks’ UPI apps are interoperable, so a customer’s multiple bank accounts can be added to a single bank’s UPI app.
Some big lenders like SBI have not been able to meet the deadline. When asked, an SBI official said, “App for the UPI is ready. It has to be tested thoroughly to avoid glitches before making it available to millions. Bank has largest retail customer base in the country and we do not want complaints to grow exponentially by going live in a hurry.” SBI will further examine the app with closed-user group and may go live in about a month’s time, the official added.
An NPCI official also confirmed the timeline indicated by SBI. Given the scale of SBI’s operations, fool-proofing the system is necessary. The UPI launch was awaited as it is expected to give a significant boost to mobile money transfers. UPI is built on the existing Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) that allows real-time transfer of money 24x7 and is also interoperable across banks which, giving it a leg-up compared with other money transfer applications.
By using the UPI app, one can transfer money to another person through a unique virtual address (virtual addresses are aliases to a bank account allowing a customer’s account to be uniquely mapped), or mobile number, or Aadhaar number. Neither the payer nor the payee will have to share their bank account details, IFSC code, etc with each other. The other advantage is that a seller can also raise a payment request. As a result, it is also supposed to be used by merchants to raise invoice requests.