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NPCI International Payment Ltd (NIPL) recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Western Union to enable real-time bank account payout in India. NIPL is National Payments Corporation of India’s (NPCI) international payments arm that was launched last year with an aim to export NPCI’s indigenously developed payments and tech offerings such as RuPay and UPI to foreign markets. In an interview, Ritesh Shukla, CEO, NIPL, talks about the new offering and devising solutions for Indians to send money overseas. Edited excerpts:

Can you tell us in detail how this will work?

Our partnership with Western Union and other players is to offer best-in-class cross-border remittance experience to over 30 million Indians living outside India. Currently, this experience is very fragmented for consumers as it requires incremental work.

This partnership will allow Western Union users as well as non-users to send money to India in a simplistic manner using Unified Payment Interface (UPI) IDs of the receiver. The sender can simply put the receiver’s UPI ID on the channel enabled by Western Union. Our arrangement with Western Union will be based on the robust and innovative infrastructure of UPI that will extend a superior, fast and secure customer experience by enabling users in India to receive international money transfers in real time into their bank accounts. Indian expats or persons of Indian origin (PIOs) living across the world will be able to send money through Western Union and UPI integrated channels to their friends and relatives by using UPI ID. All the eligible UPI member banks will get enabled for the service.

What will be the charges involved?

The charges/fees in a cross-border transaction are levied by the remittance service provider in the foreign market and these charges are typically based on the market dynamics and available channels. Our effort would be to work with Western Union to optimize cost, while ensuring a superior customer experience. We will be working to make the charges sustainable and more affordable in the long run.

By when is this service likely to be operational?

We are targeting to go live with the service by the second quarter of next year. This service will benefit millions of Indian citizens to seamlessly receive money from overseas.

Are you also looking at devising solutions for customers to send money overseas?

We are working on a solution under the guidance of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to enable Indians to send money outside India. Our solution will serve multiple use cases in retail payments catering to the individuals who wish to send money to their family and friends abroad, pay fees towards education, or any other purpose permitted by RBI.

A recent study showed that Indians paid 26,300 crore in foreign exchange fees in 2020. Do you think the launch of real-time bank account payout service by NIPL will bring down this figure?

We are aware of the current challenges present in the cross-border remittance domain, including charges, fragmented user experience, lack of transparency and long turnaround timelines. We are working collaboratively with key stakeholders such as governments, regulators, fintech companies, service providers, exchanges houses and national switches to co-create market-specific solutions.

As every geographical region has a specific requirement, the payment solutions must be tailored to cater to the market needs and preferences.

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