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January 27, 2023

On the wires

PhonePe Raises $350 mln, Becomes India's Most Valuable Payments Firm

Reuters

Walmart-backed PhonePe said on Thursday it raised $350 million from private equity firm General Atlantic at a $12 billion valuation, making it India's most valuable payments firm and giving it funds to expand into the lucrative lending space. A second tranche of investments from marquee global and Indian investors is expected to close next month, a PhonePe spokesperson said, declining to give further details.

January 19, 2023

On the web

India May Give Visa and Mastercard Access to Its Payments Market

CTM File

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is reportedly drawing up plans to link credit cards issued by Visa and Mastercard to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the country's popular online payments protocol. According to news portal The Morning Context, two industry executives have said that the central bank will decide before April. A decision in favour of the two US companies would mark a distinct change in; as Bloomberg comments: “India’s dealings with American card networks has been frosty.

January 18, 2023

On the web

January 11, 2023

On the web

Indians Living in Ten Countries Can Now Make Payments Through UPI

Quartz

Sending money back home or making merchant payments has now become hassle-free for a whole lot of Indians living abroad. India’s National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has extended access to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to non-resident Indians, a press release said yesterday (Jan. 10). The homegrown digital payments facility will be available to accounts using international mobile phone numbers from 10 select countries.

January 10, 2023

On the web

Hitachi Payment Services Receives RBI’s In-Principle Approval for Payment Aggregator Licence

Hitachi-Payments

"Hitachi Payment Services, India’s foremost end-to-end payment solutions provider, has announced that it has received the in-principle authorisation from Reserve Bank of India to act as a payment aggregator. Payment Aggregators (PAs) are entities that facilitate e-commerce sites and merchants to accept various payment instruments from customers for completion of their payment obligations. PAs facilitate merchants to connect with acquirers."

December 27, 2022

On the web

ToneTag’s POD 2.0 All Set To Disrupt The Digital Payments Space In India

CXOToday.com

“ToneTag, India’s largest voice-based commerce and payments solution provider aims to deploy its ground-breaking technology to resolve digital payment issues faced by micro and small businesses across the country. Through strategic partnerships with major global fintech players, the company is taking steps towards achieving this goal and has already reached and deployed this solution in over 100,000 small businesses and stores across India working with partners like Google, Amazon, ICICI Bank, NSDL and few others.”

December 26, 2022

On the wires

Cashfree Payments Now Offers India’s Widest ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ Suite

PR Newswire

“Leading payments and API banking solutions company, Cashfree Payments is now offering India’s widest ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL) suite. Cashfree Payments’ BNPL suite will enable online businesses to provide customers with over 30 flexible financing options during checkout. The company has launched its BNPL suite in time for the upcoming holiday season to help online businesses offer their customers easy and instant access to credit, thereby increasing sales.”

December 22, 2022

On the web

‘Cryptocurrency has Huge Inherent Risks for Our Macroeconomic, Financial Stability’, Says Shaktikanta Das

The New Indian Express

“Expressing concerns about cryptocurrencies, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das on Wednesday said these virtual assets could cause the next financial crisis and should be prohibited. “Our view is it should be prohibited because if it is allowed to grow… the next financial crisis will come from private cryptocurrencies,” said the Governor speaking at an event held in Mumbai. Highlighting the volatility and uncertainty in cryptocurrencies, he said the value of virtual currencies has come down to $140 billion and $40 billion was wiped out.”

December 20, 2022

On the web

RBI Asks Cashfree, Razorpay and Stripe To Pause Merchant On-Boarding: Report

Moneylife News & Views

“The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has ordered Cashfree, Razorpay and Stripe to pause merchant on-boarding until the central bank issues them the payment aggregator (PA) licence it has tentatively approved for them, says a report from Entrackr. Last month, RBI asked Paytm Payments Services (Paytm) Ltd to re-submit the application to operate as a PA and not to on-board new online merchants until approvals remain pending.”

Paytm, HDFC ERGO Introduce Insurance Policy to Protect Mobile Transactions

Firstpost

“One97 Communications (OCL), parent company of Paytm, has rolled out “Paytm Payment Protect”. The group insurance plan has been launched in association with HDFC ERGO General Insurance. The plan has been introduced to insure transactions made via Unified Payments Interface (UPI) across all apps and wallets. This plan intends to enhance the experience of digital payments and increase the adoption of the same in India. The insurance offering comes at a price of as low as Rs 30 per year.”

December 14, 2022

On the web

Dubai-Based NOW Money Selects ThetaRay AI Tech to Prevent Financial Crime on the Inclusive Banking App

Reuters

“NOW Money, the GCC’s first mobile banking solution focused on financial inclusion, and ThetaRay, a leading provider of AI-powered transaction monitoring technology, today announced a collaboration to implement ThetaRay’s cloud-based AML solution to monitor cross-border payments and support in the prevention of financial crimes and money laundering on the fintech’s payments platform. NOW Money selected ThetaRay’s advanced SONAR anti-money laundering solution with combined transaction monitoring and sanctions list screening to stay a step ahead of financial crime by uncovering both known and unknown money-laundering crimes, as well as preventing attempts to violate sanctions in real time. The new partnership is essential as the number of overbroad money transfers continues to grow, with the value of remittances from the UAE being Dh 2.88 trillion* (780 billion USD) in Q1 2022.”

December 8, 2022

On the web

Melinda French Gates Scans Paytm QR Code to Pay for Water at a Delhi Village

Business Today

“Philanthropist and co-chair of Gates Foundation Melinda French Gates, who is currently in India for a visit, while interacting with villagers at a Delhi village used digital payment app Patym to make a purchase at a kirana or a local store.  In a video tweet shared by Gates Foundation India, the 58-year-old billionaire can be seen holding a plastic bottle of mineral water in one hand and holding her phone in the other hand to scan Paytm’s QR code for payment at a shop in Garhi village of Delhi. French Gates, whose institution Gates Foundation has been actively working in India for years in the field of health and education, was in Garhi village to interact with the India Post Payments Bank customers and its elderly women pensioners. There is no doubt that India has been actively working on digital payment mediums, which has paved the way for extensive financial inclusion in the country. This was evident when foreign dignitaries visiting India used digital payment apps, like Paytm, to purchase things in the local markets and villages.   Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also used Paytm to shop for traditional clothes in Chandni Chowk.”

December 6, 2022

On the wires

India’s Digital Rupee Fails to Excite Interest, Bankers Say

Reuters

“A month into India’s pilot project for using an official digital rupee for inter-bank and institutional transactions, stakeholders are seeing no benefits, several bankers said. Seven bankers told Reuters that using the e-rupee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was much the same as internet-based banking that users were already satisfied with. The RBI has devised the e-rupee basically as a digital alternative to cash – one using blockchain distributed-ledger technology, to some degree anonymous and most relevant to consumers and retailers. But in the initial trial banks have been using it for settlements with each other – with no particular advantage, according to bankers.”

December 5, 2022

On the wires

Mintoak Develops Merchant Solutions to Fuel Business Growth for MSMEs

PR Newswire

“In a bid to enable financial inclusion for the country’s SMEs, HDFC Bank, India’s largest private bank, has partnered with embedded FinTech platform, Mintoak to create an ecosystem for them, starting with payments. HDFC Bank’s SmartHub Vyapar was developed by Mintoak’s API-first, cloud-native tech to seamlessly deliver payment acceptance and access to commerce enablement solutions for the merchant in one place. Today, SMEs are in digital chaos with multiple QRs and payment apps apart from other digital elements like bookkeeping apps, POS solutions etc. While most of these options are widely available for the merchants, the sheer effort of managing them is becoming a distraction. Consolidation of payments on one platform is a way forward that can ease the merchant’s pain and allow them to concentrate efforts on their business and key revenue drivers. Amongst the many players jostling for relevance at the merchant counter, this consolidation depends on two aspects (1) Technology that matches or is better than what merchants are currently using, and (2) Offered by someone merchants can trust.”

December 2, 2022

On the web

Payments Council Launches Common Icon Library for Uniformity, Fraud Prevention [India]

Moneycontrol

“The Payments Council of India (PCI), the apex body of payments and settlement players in the country, has launched an initiative named ‘Project Pratima’ to standardise icons for payments across apps and platforms to make it easier for customers to identify digital payment icons. Gaurav Chopra, Executive Director of PCI told Moneycontrol, “It is a project which PCI has undertaken to standardise icons of most common use cases in payments. The main idea behind this is to safeguard people against fraud and increase adoption of digital payments. Standardised icons will help users identify payments actions correctly.”   Pratima means ‘icon’ in Sanskrit. The project’s website says that it aims to improve the trust, security, and familiarity of digital payment icons in a bid to avoid instances of customers falling prey to fraud or making mistakes while conducting payment transactions.”

On the wires

India Extends Deadline to Levy Cap on Digital Payment Transactions

Reuters

“India has decided to extend the deadline on capping the share of digital payment transactions by about two years to Dec. 31, 2024, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said on Friday. The NPCI had said in late 2020 that payment firms will not be allowed to process more than 30% of the total volume of transactions on UPI from Jan 1. The move comes as a breather to companies like Walmart Inc’s PhonePe and Alphabet Inc’s Google, which are among the leading digital money transfer apps in the country.”

December 1, 2022

On the web

India’s Retail Digital Currency Pilot Launches on December 1st

The Register

“The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced its first retail digital Rupee pilot will commence on December 1, 2022. “The pilot will test the robustness of the entire process of digital rupee creation, distribution and retail usage in real time,” said RBI. The pilot works like this: Participating banks distribute the e-rupee (e₹-R), in the same denominations available as notes and coins, into digital wallets stored on mobile phones. These deposits can in turn be used for transactions among individuals, or to acquire goods and services from merchants. Merchant payments can be made using QR codes. The e₹-R will not earn any interest but can be converted to other forms of money. RBI said the digital currency would offer the same features of physical cash – like trust, safety and settlement finality. In late October, RBI detailed that the pilot would include “closed user groups comprising customers and merchants,” but operation-related specifics would be revealed in “due course.” The first phase of the pilot will start off with four banks (State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank and IDFC First Bank) in four cities (Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar.) It will later expand to four more banks (Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank) and nine more cities (Ahmedabad, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Lucknow, Patna and Shimla).”

November 23, 2022

On the web

India Unveils Reworked Data Protection Bill Draft After ‘Extensive Consultations’

Biometric Update

“India’s federal government has released a new draft bill for public comment on personal data protection after months of extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders. Labeled the Digital Data Protection Act 2022, the reworked draft bill has been described by the union minister for railways, communications, electronics and information technology Ashwini Vaishnaw as balanced in scope and favorable for India’s digital economic growth, reports the Financial Times (FT).”

Airtel Payments Bank Rolls Out e-KYC-Based Face Authentication for Opening Saving Accounts

Business Insider

“Airtel Payments Bank announced the launch of a face authentication-based savings bank account opening for customers. The payments bank said the facility would further ease the account opening, making it seamless and convenient for customers. Airtel Payments Bank is the first Payments Bank in the country to offer this facility.The payments bank said the new facility would help business correspondents (BCs) of the bank to open an account just by undertaking face authentication through electronic know-your-customers (e-KYC).The authentication is processed using a newly developed mobile application by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the payments bank said, adding that, the business correspondent will now only need a smartphone to open an account. The bank will make this facility available across all its 500,000 banking points by the end of this year, it said.”

November 3, 2022

On the web

Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay Divided on UPI Market Share Cap; Government Won’t Intervene

The Economic Times

“The Centre will not “actively intervene” in the matter of conflicting demands by India’s top payment providers over the issue of enforcing a 30% cap on the market share of. apps operating on the unified payment interface (UPI), top officials told ET. This follows contrasting demands on the issue by digital payment providers in recent weeks.While Paytm, the third ranking payment app “believes market capping should be implemented as per the timeline (December 2022), “ market leaders Walmart-owned PhonePe as well as Google Pay had independently approached UPI regulator National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) for an extension of the deadline by at least three more years.Senior officials told ET that the mandate to decide on this issue lies with the NPCI and the Reserve Bank of India. However, the Centre will monitor any decision that could potentially affect consumers, they added….As per latest NPCI data for the month of September, PhonePe and Google Pay had market shares of 46.7% and 33.3%, respectively, in terms of volumes of UPI transactions handled.”

October 31, 2022

On the web

Banks Fix Limits on UPI as Conflict Brews Over Cost of Transactions

Firstpost

“While the unified payments interface (UPI) transactions race to reach a billion transactions per day mark, a potential confrontation has been developing between regulations that call for UPI to remain free and Reserve Bank of India regulations that permit banks to cap the number of withdrawals from savings accounts. According to research by Ashish Das of IIT-Bombay, this disagreement can be resolved if the RBI assumes responsibility for UPI payment costs in the same way that it does for currency transaction costs. According to the report, certain banks have restricted the number of debits made to savings accounts. The report comes as the RBI is looking for feedback on payment fees. The government, on the other hand, is adamant that UPI should retain its freedom. Although the central bank has not commented on restricting transactions, it had previously suggested that banks could set a limit on the number of withdrawals from savings accounts. Fintech firms and banks have stated that UPI transaction costs must be borne by someone, at least for merchant payments. The research reads, “On the one side, there is a regulation that supports limiting the number of withdrawals, but on the other, the RBI has a goal for using financial services and moving the country toward a cashless society through digital methods through their financial inclusion agenda. The two policies conflict with one another.””

October 18, 2022

On the web

India’s Digital Rupee and How it’s Different from China’s

Analytics India Magazine

“Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman first disclosed the government’s intention to introduce India’s own CBDC – the e-rupee (e₹) – in March 2022. Highlighting the significance of CBDCs, the FM said, “We see clear advantages in a central bank- driven digital currency, because in this day and age, large transactions between institutions, bulk payments between countries, and transactions between central banks of each country are all better enabled with digital currency.” A few months later, in October 2022, RBI released a concept note regarding Indian CBDC, i.e, e₹. As per the RBI, it is to “create awareness about CBDCs in general and planned features of the digital Rupee, in particular”.”

October 13, 2022

On the web

Can India’s UPI system Go global?

Business-Standard

“In November 2019, Alphabet-owned Google wrote to the US Federal Reserves, asking the central bank to design its upcoming instant payments system FedNow on the lines of India’s Unified Payments Interface or UPI. It said, an open payments system fosters collaboration between technology and financial service providers, adding that India’s approach attained “amazing” results for banks, consumers and other players within the payments ecosystem. In 2021, UPI processed around 39 billion transactions totalling $940 billion, equivalent to 31% of India’s GDP. As if on cue, in August 2020, the National Payments Corporation of India, which operates UPI, launched NPCI International Payments, a subsidiary tasked with exporting NPCI’s indigenously developed offerings like UPI and the RuPay card network to foreign markets.”

October 12, 2022

On the web

India’s Central Bank RBI Publishes Digital Currency Details — Confirms Digital Rupee Pilot Launching ‘Soon’

Bitcoin News

“India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), published a report titled “Concept Note on Central Bank Digital Currency” Friday. The 51-page document explains the “objectives, choices, benefits, and risks of issuing” a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in India, the RBI described, adding that it has been exploring the pros and cons of introducing a central bank digital currency “for some time.” The RBI clarified that the upcoming CBDC, also referred to as e₹ (digital rupee) “is substantially not different from banknotes, but being digital it is likely to be easier, faster, and cheaper.””

October 7, 2022

On the web

India’s RBI to Soon Commence Pilot Project of Digital Rupee

The Wire

“The Reserve Bank of India will soon commence limited pilot launches of a central bank backed digital rupee for specific use cases, it said in a concept paper released on Friday. The RBI has been exploring the pros and cons of a central bank digital currency for some time and is working towards a strategy to implement it in a phased manner, it said. Use cases are being examined for an e-rupee in a way that there is minimal or no disruption to the financial system, the RBI added.”

October 4, 2022

On the web

September 22, 2022

On the web

TerraPay and NPCI International Collaborate to Drive Seamless Merchant Payments Via UPI-enabled QR Codes

PR Newswire

“In a strategic move to further strengthen its cross-border payment solutions, TerraPay, a leading global payments infrastructure group today announced its partnership with NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL), the International arm of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). This association with NIPL will allow Indian customers and merchants in India with an active Unified Payments Interface Id (UPI Id) to make and accept cross-border payments seamlessly by leveraging TerraPay’s agile infrastructure and the UPI network.”

September 21, 2022

On the web

UPI Supercharged Mobile Payments in India. It’s Now Gearing Up for Next Phase of Growth

TechCrunch

“In just six years, UPI has become the most popular way Indians transact online. The mobile electronics payments system was used for over 6.57 billion transactions in the world’s second largest internet market last month. Now, it’s taking steps to supercharge its growth. The payments network, which was built by a coalition of banks, is India’s attempt to challenge card companies in an open market, bring hundreds of millions of people into the fold of digital payments and curb the proliferation of corruption.”

September 14, 2022

On the web

India Allows Cross-Border Payments: NRIs Will Soon be Able to Pay Bills Directly in India

Gulf News

“Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) no longer need to pay routine bills of their families in India by sending money to their India-based accounts. They can now pay directly from wherever they are overseas by using a new government bill payment portal. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed NRIs to pay bills through Bharat Bill Pay System (BBPS), a payment portal of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), an initiative of RBI and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) enabling digital payments and settlement systems in India.”

Cashfree Payments enables DASH to Manage the Payments from 2,000+ Small Merchants in Tier-3 Areas

PR Newswire

“Cashfree Payments, a leading payment and API banking solutions company, is enabling door-step payment collection for DASH, a tech-led go-to-market platform for brands in Tier-3 towns. DASH will be using Cashfree Payments’ point of sale solution, softPOS , to offer this service to more than 2,000 small merchants in Tier-3 areas. softPOS is a point of sale (POS) solution which can convert an Android phone into a POS machine. Businesses can use the app to generate UPI QR codes, create payment links, and enable card payments via NFC-based Tap and Pay, and also record and manage cash collections. softPOS also offers payment methods such as wallets, EMI etc. through this solution.”