For those living under a rock for the past few years let me start off by saying that this is an attempt at explaining the new wave of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) which has taken over the Indian market.
Launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on 25th August 2016, UPI has been hailed as the next revolution in the payments sector. The service basically offered a differentiated mechanism for paying money to merchants directly from customers bank accounts with a layer of obscurity added to protect payee bank account information from being used. The core proposition was quite a hit since a lot of users were tired of remembering tons of information about our bank accounts such as Account number, IFSC codes and hence preferred cash as a primary mode of transaction for their day to day activities.
UPI allowed users to pay money seamlessly for simple transactions like buying groceries at a local kirana store to ordering large value merchandise at our favourite e-commerce stores. Coupled with promotional offers from various players like BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money), Google Pay (Originally launched as Google Tez), PhonePe amongst a wave of other service providers the service seemed like a great facility but didn’t get the adoption it expected to begin with. We then came across a major landmark in Indian history where Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the changes in the currency notes in circulation (referred to as demonetization) to curb on black money and fake currencies in circulation. This served as a big launchpad for the UPI service and usage trends skyrocketed with players posting 100x growth in some cases on the transactions and signups monthly. Over time the offering has become an integral part of Digital India where users find it easy to make payments as low as 10 Rs at the local Tapri’s (Tea-Shops) for their morning cup of tea to even buying movie tickets, products on ecommerce sites, paying bills at grocery stores among a multitude of similar services.
We have now reached a point where market leaders in finance, insurance and payments are offering new and unique ways of leveraging the service to offer ways and means of making payments, offering loans, buying insurance and simplifying on boarding processes which otherwise involved lengthy documents to be signed in the traditional mechanisms. This coupled with the Digital India drive by the government now has become a de-facto payment standard driving a cashless economy which was a much-needed change in the ecosystem. With the initial wave of cashbacks and promotions dying down companies have now moved to leveraging the service as a means of convenience with a touch-free experience making the end user receptive to services and means beyond imagination.
Looking at the new enhancements promised with the revised UPI 2.0 regulations things can only get better and as a daily user of the service I look forward to the new and innovative ways in which UPI will make our lives truly digital and cashless.
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