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We need payments neutrality law, says IAMAI and PCI

The Internet and Mobile Association of India(IAMAI) and the Payments Council of India (PCI) are calling for a law which will ensure payments neutrality. The law will ensure equal access to payments infrastructure for equal services and ensure that there is interoperability of between different instruments offered by fintech companies.

The IAMAI also pointed out that the Watal Committee report on payments had called for improving the shareholding structure of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). Around 74.7% of the shareholding of NPCI is held by 10 incumbent banks.  

“Only bank-led PSPs (Payment Systems Providers) have direct access to payment systems. Non-bank PSPs (payment system proviers) can access payment systems only through a member bank,” the Watal report read. The PSP segment has 44 authorized PrePaid Payment Instruments (PPIs including mobile wallets, prepaid cards, etc.) and 8 authorized Payments Banks. “Essentially, none of these can connect to the NPCI run infrastructure, and are effectively disenfranchised by the Banks that run NPCI,” the report added.

It complained that non-bank wallets do not have access to UPI. To quote what AP Hota, MD & CEO told MediaNama in May last year, “Bank applications do not have such a great user experience. So the banks asked give us time to catch up and leave the wallets out of it. It is just a competitive position.”

Banks and wallets companies have been at loggerheads for quite some time right now. State Bank of India (SBI) the country’s largest lender, has removed the option of loading money on all major wallets through net banking. Wallets from Paytm, FreeCharge, MobiKwik and Jio Money still does not list SBI as an option to load money through net banking.

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In other interconnection battles in payments, last month, ICICI Bank blocked UPI transactions from the PhonePe wallet. The new wallet said that more than 20,000 transactions with total value of over Rs 5 crore failed because of ICICI Bank’s move. It eventually ended its very public spat with Flipkart, PhonePe and YES Bank (which provided the SDK for UPI payments). During the entire episode, the NPCI reversed its decision and asked YES Bank and PhonePe to comply with its regulations on interoperability and simultaneously asked ICICI Bank to open transactions once it was done.

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