New Delhi: The union information technology ministry has asked all banks to issue upgraded versions of their Unified Payments Interface (UPI) apps which will support payments using BharatQR code too. The move is aimed at creating a single QR code by integrating UPI QR with BharatQR.

Bharat QR is a common quick response (QR) code released by major card payment companies—National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) that runs RuPay cards, MasterCard and Visa—under instructions from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 20 February.

Ajay Kumar, additional secretary, ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) tweeted on Wednesday: #BharatQR code to receive payments from @NPCI_BHIM. Banks to issue upgraded version soon. @_DigitalIndia @NPCI_NPCI @GoI_MeitY @FinMinIndia

To be sure, most of the banks have already renamed their UPI apps as BHIM (bank name) app. For instance, UPI app for State Bank of India (SBI) has been renamed as BHIM SBI Pay from SBI Pay. Similarly, other bank apps have too been renamed.

The government is planning to develop a common merchant app for BHIM which will support Bharat QR code for all categories of merchants. The aim is to create a seamless network with a single app and a QR code for mobile transactions, said a person familiar with the development.

The NPCI is working on integrating the Bharat QR code with Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app, Financial Express reported on 6 September.

BHIM app was launched on 30 December by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It supports payments by scanning UPI QR codes (both static and dynamic). UPI was launched by NPCI and it facilitates instant fund transfer between two bank accounts on the mobile platform.

“There are five constituents of BharatQR—Mastercard, Visa, American Express, RuPay and now we have UPI. Most of the banks have not yet changed their apps, only BHIM app has incorporated BharatQR. So, now the government is asking every bank having a UPI app to undergo a change to introduce the ability to read BharatQR as a part of their UPI app," said Dewang Neralla, chief executive officer, Atom Technologies Ltd, a payment service provider.

Transactions using UPI rose to a record 16.61 million in August, a seven-fold increase since December, according to NPCI. UPI was launched in August 2016 with 21 banks, and is currently being offered by about 55 banks.

The push towards QR-based payments will revolutionize the retail payments landscape. The QR code is going to reduce the cost of infrastructure for these retail merchants; they may or may not use the point-of-sale (POS) machines for transactions. Customers on the other hand, will have more payment options at the terminal, added Neralla.

“The government is planning to launch a promotional drive for BharatQR from 2 October and ensure that all the government departments and PSUs display the code to facilitate payment of various kinds of utility bills and tax payments," said another person familiar with the development, requesting anonymity.

More than 48% of digital transactions are done through mobile devices, around 38% through POS devices and 14% through laptops or desktops, according to a report by KPMG.

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