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What is UPI and how it might change the way you shop and transact?

Recently there has been a lot of buzz happening in the Indian Banking and Finance sector. Next only to the Demonetization scheme announced by our PM Mr. Modi, the term that is garnering a lot of interest is the UPI Payment Gateway.

What exactly is it? How does it work, and how is it different from the various e-wallets we all have got used to? Let’s find out.

What is UPI?

Simply put, UPI stands for Unified Payment Interface. It is a payment method that facilitates the transfer of money between any two bank accounts using a smartphone. Initiated by the NPCI, with support from RBI, UPI enables different banks to interconnect and transfer funds.

Slated to be the next best payment method, it enables a customer to pay a merchant directly from his bank account, thereby eliminating the need for credit cards, OTP, PIN, Net banking or e-Wallets.

It is a mobile app that interconnects your bank accounts and uses a virtual address or id to execute your payments. Since it brings all your accounts under one app to make the payments, it doesn’t matter in which bank you have an account. Moreover, you don’t need to have a different UPI app for every account you have.

Currently, UPI is executed on the framework of IMPS architecture, making fund transfer possible 24/7. Apart from just making payments, UPI will also enable you to carry on other activities like Bill sharing, COD, OTC transactions, etc.

How does UPI work?

UPI will help you to transfer money from across banks, from your smartphones using your Aadhar number, phone number or a virtual payment address. You just need to enter these details, get a payment request on your phone, which you can accept to close the payment. There will be no need to input your bank account details or pins or use cards. It also wishes away the need to use apps or e-wallets to transact.

Benefits of using UPI

  • It is fast, easy to use and available 24/7, as it is real-time based.
  • Very secure, eliminating mistakes or errors that happen during fund transfers.
  • No need to go through multiple steps involved in NEFT transfer like adding payee details, waiting for approval. etc.
  • Very low transaction charges as compared to other modes of transfer.
  • Increasing adoption of smartphone usage means increasing number of users who may opt for UPI.
  • A bold step into the next phase of a cashless and digital economy.

Drawbacks

Like any other system, UPI too has its set of drawbacks.

  • The transaction limit is lower when compared to the IMPS method.
  • Rural areas which constitute a significant chunk in the population may not join this method due to low awareness, access to and usage of technology.
  • Though considered more secure with a 2-factor authentication, it completely doesn’t eliminate hacking and other cyber threats.

Will UPI become the face of Payments in India?

“What we have in India is the most sophisticated public payments infrastructure in the world,” Mr. Raghuram Rajan, the RBI Governor remarked at the launch of the UPI.

While touted as the next big thing in payments in our country, it is fair to say that UPI is still at its nascent stages. It might take some time, some fine tuning and some more awareness initiatives from the government to popularize this method to make it into one of the mainstream payment methods.

At this juncture, it is possible that UPI will not completely replace online transfers, but may present a quick and convenient way to shop due to its user friendliness.

With more banks increasingly coming the UPI way, it can be prudent to mention that UPI can bring in the next big revolution in Indian Payments and give the eCommerce industry a much-needed boost.

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