India To Take UPI’s Success Abroad, Bids To Build Myanmar’s Real-Time Payments System

India’s homegrown payments system could soon make waves abroad.

India is bidding to build Myanmar’s Real-Time Retail Payments System and QR-code Generation and Repository System, ET reported. The bid was submitted jointly by NPCI’s recently set-up subsidiary NPCI International (NIPL), and Kansas-based fintech company Euronet to the Central Bank of Myanmar. “The CBM project has received grants from the World Bank, and a successful implementation of NPCI’s expertise could give a serious boost to its international aspirations,” a source said.

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Launched in 2016, UPI is one of India’s biggest home-grown success stories. The payments platform now processes 1.62 billion transactions per month, with Rs. 2.98 trillion being transacted. UPI has already beaten both debit cards and credit cards in terms of number of transactions. More impressively, no one payments provider has a monopoly over the platform — there are now over 40 privately-run UPI apps available, and they all use UPI’s underlying payments infrastructure.

India is now looking to take the success of UPI international. The National Payments Council of India (NPCI), which had developed UPI, has set up a subsidiary called NPCI International to take UPI and RuPay cards to other nations. Unlike NPCI, NPCI International is a for-profit entity. This approach has also been followed by ISRO, which had created a company called Antrix to carry out satellite launches for foreign companies and governments. NPCI, though, will have to contend with competition from global payments giants including Mastercard and Visa who are also interested in the Myanmar project. If India does win the bid, it would give India a fillip to take its platform to other countries in the Asian market including Malaysia, UAE and Singapore.

UPI has received accolades from several international bodies for its payments solution. Fidelity National tracks 40 such payments systems run by governments around the world, and in 2019 UPI alone received a top score of 5 for innovation and customer value. In comparison, China’s Internet Banking Payment System scored a two, and Kenya’s PesaLink scored a four. The criteria for the score included round-the-clock availability, speed of settlement and level of government or regulator support. UPI has also been praised by the Bank for International Settlement and Google. And with the Indian government now looking to take UPI international, UPI could end up becoming a Make-In-India success story — in a high-tech, high-value sector like payments no less — like no other.