Card network American Express has added BharatQR to its Amex Pay app joining other card networks Visa, Mastercard and RuPay. On the Google Play Store and the iTunes app store, American Express updated the app on November 8 to add BharatQR capabilities. BharatQR is an inter-operable QR code network for payments, built by card networks where customers can scan the code at a merchant to pay. The idea for an inter-operable QR code network was floated in December 2016 following demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

From Amex Pay’s FAQs, it looks like the application will only support cards issued by American Express. Note that MasterCard and Visa two solutions called Masterpass and mVisa respectively to enable QR code payments but they allow cards from other networks as well. Both of them create a virtual card and link the physical card and process the transactions through their network. Amex Pay will support a maximum of six cards on the app.

Interestingly, the FAQs also added that users can make a payment using the QR functionality wherever they see the American Express logo on a BharatQR sticker. As such, it is unclear if Amex Pay can be used for scanning QR codes generated by the UPI or the app will exclusively work with merchants who have the American Express logo.

In August, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) merged QR codes generated by the UPI will be merged with the ones generated by BharatQR. NPCI instructed member banks to ensure that their applications be equipped to read both UPI QR as well as BharatQR by 15th September 2017. Essentially, it instructed banks and payment players to embed UPI credentials on BharatQR and vice versa.

Differentiated MDR

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed new slabs for debit card merchant discount rate (MDR) banks will be allowed to charge merchants. It proposed differentiated MDR between acquiring infrastructure involving physical terminals (POS machines, mPOS etc) and digital acceptance infrastructure models (such as QR codes). QR codes payment through cards would attract a fee of 0.3% to 0.85% for merchants. MDR is an inter-bank exchange fee that banks charge for enabling digital transactions.