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Govt plans to make UPI QR codes mandatory for shops: Virtual monopoly for NPCI?

The government of India is looking into making it mandatory for all shops “above a certain threshold” to offer Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments through QR codes, and give customers and shopkeepers GST benefits for using UPI, the Economic Times reports. The GST Council had given the proposal a go-ahead just before the elections and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), bank-owned private organisation which runs UPI, is now working to implement it once the elections after over, the report said. The plan seeks to bring about behavioural change by introducing the UPI payments for B2C transactions, a source told the newspaper, and that QR codes may also be introduced on invoices in the medium-to-long-term. 'Virtual monopoly' for NPCI? While the move could indeed increase the adoption of digital payments, it would also give NPCI a monopoly as it owns India’s only two inter-operable QR code systems - one that is solely for UPI transactions and the other, BharatQR, for payments through cards as well as UPI. “This would amount to a virtual monopoly for NPCI as companies such as Paytm with their own closed QR code systems would be locked out,” payments expert Shashidhar KJ told MediaNama. In addition, as Twitter user Srikanth Lakshmanan pointed out, the GST benefits for businesses and consumers would be restricted to those using the NPCI's BHIM app for UPI payments or its RuPay card. He also criticised the centralisation of user data for private profit (NPCI is a private firm) and said the exercise…

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