How PhonePe pivoted to UPI from IMPS overnight
Demonetisation brought all major banks to the UPI fold overnight, and PhonePe had been downloaded by more than 10 million people, says PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam
In 2015, mobile wallets were the flavour of the month. A new wallet was being launched every week. However, we felt that prepaid instruments created walled gardens, and Indian consumers deserved open, interoperable payment networks. So, we were pitching our vision of building an interoperable P2P-payments app on top of IMPS to bankers in Mumbai. Not surprisingly, by January 2016, most banks had unceremoniously laughed us out of the building. But then out of nowhere, NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) announced a series of “UPI Hackathons" in February 2016. We attended the Bengaluru event where the CEO of NPCI announced that they would be launching an interoperable payments network with open developer APIs. This network, named UPI, was to be launched shortly. ICICI, Yes Bank, RBL and other banks confirmed that they would be launch partners for UPI. Despite our slight cynicism, we felt like this might be the real deal!