Retail payments organisation National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on Thursday said that the relevance of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) will grow in the ‘phygital’ world, combining the physical and digital space, in a post-covid world, with increasing relaxations being witnessed in India’s lockdown.
“As merchants and users avoid crowding in shops and neighbourhood stores, merchants will start taking and managing orders digitally, while requesting for payments online remotely. The UPI-used case will only grow further in this combination of the physical and digital world," said Praveena Rai, chief operating officer, NPCI, at a webinar.
Rai added that several digital payment fintechs are now starting to equip merchants with online payment services, where neighbourhood store owners can send an SMS, which carries a UPI-payment link and guides users to the UPI payment app installed on their phone, when clicked.
“While QR codes were enabled for merchants, customers weren’t heading to stores and making payments through these QRs. So, we saw a need for these merchants to operate in a ‘phygital’ form and also got requests for this technology stack," said Rai, while addressing media queries.
During the lockdown, several fintech players have leveraged this model, where merchants can send UPI payment links to customers who are locked inside their homes, due to the lockdown.
For instance, Bengaluru-based payment gateway recently said that it is providing its existing products ‘payment pages’ and ‘payment links’, as a simple tool for neighbourhood kirana stores to send payment links to customers as they deliver essential goods in the locality.
Several other digital fintechs have also adopted a ‘phygital’ approach, during this covid-19 induced lockdown.
Flipkart-owned PhonePe as well as Google Pay allowed users to identify neighbourhood stores in a customer’s locality, digitally, which were open and delivering, while allowing users to pay then through their respective apps.
On whether UPI can see a strong use case for processing salary payments, Rai said that NPCI had received such requests and already allows corporates to make bulk payments through UPI.
“There are corporates which are processing bulk payments through UPI and this solution is provided to them through banks," Rai added.
NPCI also said that UPI is seeing used cases across grocery-related payments, supermarket deliveries in localities, as well as online recharges. Another trend, which the organisation highlighted was around bulk payments made for consolidated orders by a certain apartment.
For April, UPI transactions in the country fell below the 1 billion mark, as the digital payments industry continued to suffer from the lockdown.
According to data released by NPCI total UPI transactions in the country stood at 990 million in April, as against 1.25 billion in March. This was almost a 21% month-on-month decline, and April counted as the second consecutive month after March, when UPI payments in the country took a dip.