ICICI Bank claims to have crossed 1 million virtual payment addresses (VPA) on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) within 3 weeks of launch. To improve usage, the bank has tied up with Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited (ABFRL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited(HPCL) to offer UPI based payments at its retail outlets.

On the UPI, the VPA acts as a financial address for a user instead of their 16 digit bank account number and the 11 digit IFSC code. Once registered for VPA, bank account holders can send and receive money from their smartphones without the need to enter bank account information or net banking user id and password.

The UPI is currently available on the ICICI Bank’s Pockets app and iMobile banking app. Customers of banks which are on the UPI can create a virtual address on these apps and can pay through their smartphone at 6,500 HPCL petrol pumps and 2,000 stores of ABFRL.

Earlier this week, ICICI Bank also tied up with C2C payments company Instamojo and payment aggregator ftcash for UPI payments. The UPI will be a payment option for Instamojo and ftcash and ICICI Bank will process the transactions. Banks are tying up with payment intermediary companies in an effort to build up a merchant base for the UPI. For UPI transactions with merchants, banks are allowed to charge a higher fee as compared to P2P payments.

Typically, there is a revenue sharing agreement with payment companies and banks for UPI transactions for access to their merchant database. In the case of Razorpay, banks pay 20 basis points per transaction.

Push for P2M payments by the NPCI: In an earlier event this month, Dilip Asbe, COO of the NPCI, had said that it is more concerned with person-to-merchant (P2M) payments via the UPI to drive usage. “P2P transactions are not that frequent from a consumer standpoint. It happens once or twice in a month,” he added.