Indian Government wants faster adoption of UPI Apps
Online travel agent yatra.com has introduced unified payment interface (UPI) as a paying method on its website, across all business lines, reports Times of India. UPI is a system that allows account holders of all banks to send or receive money from their smartphones without the need to enter their net-banking user id or password. "Essentially we have launched UPI as a payment option on our website, and anybody who has a virtual payment address (VPA) registered with their bank, can make a payment directly using the UPI flow," said Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer (B2C) at yatra.com.
Users can download an UPI app such as ICICI Bank's Pockets and create a VPA, linking it to their account in any bank to start using the system developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the agency that handles all retail payments in India. Yatra.com is the first in the online travel agency segment to offer UPI on its platform. It has tied up with ICICI Bank for technical integration of the payment method. ET had reported last week that NPCI was getting "impatient" with merchants - especially online ones that are expected to generate the bulk of such payments - for being slow to warm up to UPI-based payments.
The system, which merges several banking features on a single mobile application to enable seamless fund routing and merchant payments, was launched in August. Yatra.com already allows customers to make online payments through net banking, mobile wallets and credit/debit cards. The government has been promoting the use of UPI, and the Prime Minister launched a UPI-based app called Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) on December 30, which has seen over 5 million downloads so far, and is widely seen as an alternative to popular mobile wallets. Dhall said adoption of UPI by online players such as yatra.com would drive higher customer adoption of this "seamless" system. "In the case of a wallet, you need to transfer money from your bank account to the wallet and there is a cap of Rs 20,000 after which you have to provide a KYC. As adoption of this increases, you're likely to see a shift from wallets to UPI," he told ET.
While UPI as a payment option is only available on Yatra's website now, work is on to launch it on the firm's mobile app shortly. One benefit of this system is the lower merchant discount rate (MDR), or the fee a merchant has to pay a bank to access its payment infrastructure. The MDR for a UPI transaction is "significantly lower" than what is charged on credit cards and close to MDR charged on debit cards, Dhall said. MDR is not applicable on UPI until January 31. Yatra had approximately 4.4 million cumulative customers as of June 30, 2016. In the last financial year, 74% transactions were from repeat customers, and 59% customer traffic was from mobile.