Digital diplomacy: India's UPI system gets another global push with launch in France
UPI already has linkages with payment systems in several countries across the world
In a move that is in keeping with the strengthening of ties between India and France, India's Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system can now be used in the European nation, beginning with the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The development, announced at a reception held by the Indian Embassy at the Eiffel Tower on February 2, 2024 to mark India's Republic Day, showcases India's rising influence in the digital payments sector worldwide.
UPI already has linkages with payment systems in several countries across the world in India's immediate neighbourhood, West Asia, and Southeast Asia; France is the first European nation to adopt it.
After the launch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his enthusiasm on social media platform X, stating, "Great to see this - it marks a significant step towards taking UPI global. This is a wonderful example of encouraging digital payments and fostering stronger ties." This sentiment reflects the broader vision of making UPI a global standard for digital transactions.
The launch follows the recent visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India, where he was the Chief Guest at India's 75th Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2024.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has announced that tourists visiting the Eiffel Tower can now book their tickets using UPI payments. This collaboration with the French e-commerce and payments platform Lyra facilitates seamless transactions, making it easier for Indian tourists, who constitute the second-largest group of international visitors to the Eiffel Tower, to purchase tickets online through a simple QR code scan.
The UPI system, developed by the NPCI in 2016, has revolutionized the banking sector in India by integrating multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application, facilitating seamless fund routing and merchant payments. It supports both Person-to-Person (P2P) and Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payments and it also enables a user to send or receive money.
UPI's Growing Global Footprint
UPI's international expansion represents a significant milestone in India's digital journey and its growing impact on the global financial ecosystem.
In July 2021, Bhutan became the first country to allow UPI transactions through the BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) App; Nepal followed suit subsequently.
In 2022, Oman and the UAE, also tied up with NPCI to enable the use of UPI through payments channels in these countries.
In February 2023, UPI tied up with Singapore's PayNow to enable faster remittances between the two countries. This means that users of UPI and PayNow can instantly make low-cost fund transfers on a reciprocal basis without needing to join the other payment system.
Additionally, the NPCI International Payments Ltd (NIPL) has signed a deal with Malaysia's Liquid Group, which is the cross-border digital payments provider, to enable QR-based UPI payments’ acceptance in 10 countries across north and southeast Asia. The counties include Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
As UPI continues its global journey with France, this move is expected to drive the way for further international collaborations, promoting digital payments and enhancing bilateral relationships.