Market regulator SEBI on Wednesday extended the timeline for implementing Phase I of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as an alternative payment method for retail investors buying shares in a public issue. This means Phase II, which involves doing way with the need to physically move forms to block funds, will not kick in this month as originally scheduled. After receiving feedback from various stakeholders, SEBI said, it decided to extend the deadline by three months to June 30, to ensure a smooth transition to UPI. “The implementation of Phase II and III shall continue unchanged from the date of completion of Phase I,” the circular read.

Currently, retail investors can invest in an IPO through bank ASBA (application supported by block amount) or through broker ASBA, in which the broker does the bidding and hands over the application form to the investor’s bank, PTI reports. ASBA is a process SEBI developed for applying to an IPO, in which the applicant’s account isn’t debited until shares are allotted to them. Once fully implemented, UPI will do away with the need to physically move forms from intermediaries to banks to block funds, and the cut listing time for an IPO from six days to three, it claims.

SEBI’s three-phase rollout plan

On November 1, 2018, SEBI had said that it would launch UPI as an alternative payment option for buying shares in an IPO in three phases, starting January 1, 2019. Phase I was set to end this month but will now continue until June 30. From SEBI’s November 2018 circular:

Phase I: From January 1, 2019, the UPI mechanism for retail individual investors through intermediaries will be made effective along with the existing process and existing timeline of T+6 days. This will continue for 3 months or floating of 5 main board public issues, whichever is later.
Phase II: Thereafter, for applications by retail individual investors through intermediaries, the existing process of physical movement of forms from intermediaries to Self-Certified Syndicate Banks (SCSBs) for blocking of funds will be discontinued and only the UPI mechanism with existing timeline of T+6 days will continue for 3 months or floating of 5 main board public issues, whichever is later.
Phase III: Subsequently, final reduced timeline will be made effective using the UPI mechanism.