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UPI, Rupay To Soon Be Available in France: NPCI Signs MoU with Lyra Network

India’s UPI payment system will now be available in France after the NPCI signed an MoU with Lyra Networks, marking an expansion of the payments system

France is the first European country to accept UPI and Rupay payments.

The international wing of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI International) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with France’s Lyra Network on June 16th, said Minister of Communications, Ashwini Vaishnaw, in conversation with ANI

With this deal, United Payment Interface (UPI) and Rupay card services will be available in France soon. The move comes after the Reserve Bank of India’s recent proposal to link Rupay credit cards to UPI, deepening the interface’s penetration across the country.

Indians will be able to make payments via UPI and Rupay cards at Lyra terminals and machines—which may facilitate smoother payment experiences for Indian students and tourists in France. As of 2019, there were 10,000 Indian students in France—although the French government hopes to bring 20,000 to its shores by 2025. In 2017, over 7 lakh Indian tourists visited the country. Recent travel relaxations post-COVID-19 by the French government could boost the numbers of inbound tourists.

It could also set a precedent for the adoption of these services in other international jurisdictions. After a series of Asian countries, France is the first European country to accept the two home-grown payment services.

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Who Are the Signatories to the MoU?

The expansion of UPI and Rupay card services outside of India’s borders is the primary objective of NPCI International. It was established in 2020 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NPCI (which was founded in 2018). 

  • A parallel mission of NPCI International: ‘any Indian travelling to any country across the globe will be able to use our products’. 
  • The NPCI’s work in transforming digital payments is well-recognised—and, as noted by Mr. Vaishnaw, is a huge selling point for the Indian government’s investment in digital payments in the global economy. Currently, over 26 crore users and 5 crore merchants are registered with UPI—while ₹10.40 lakh crore was transacted on the platform in May 2022 alone.
  • Recognising this success, NPCI International hopes to charitably share this knowledge with countries that have the potential to upgrade their digital payments services but lack the financial or technical resources needed to do so. In the process, it hopes to ‘uplift’ these countries’ digital futures. 

Founded by Alain Loucour and Andre Malbert in 2001, Lyra Network provides a wide range of payment services to facilitate secure online transactions. 

  • It entered the Indian market in 2007. A self-described ‘industry leader’ in online payments, its Indian clients include ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank—while Vodafone, American Express, and other large companies make up its global clientele. 
  • Over the past few years, Lyra’s India wing has worked with the Union government for its Digital Advancement of Rural Post Offices for a New India scheme. It was involved in facilitating last-mile banking services at post offices for the ‘poorest and remotest’ of Indians.

Which Other Countries Collaborated with NPCI International?

NPCI International’s work has led to UPI and Rupay-based collaborations with four Asian countries: Bhutan, Singapore, Nepal, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

  • Bhutan: On July 13th, 2021, NPCI International, in collaboration with the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan, announced the adoption of UPI QR code-based payments in the country. Described as ‘a new milestone in financial integration between the two economies’, the move also sought to benefit the 20,000 Indian tourists visiting the country each year.
  • Singapore: On September 13th, 2021, NPCI International announced a partnership with Singapore-based Liquid Group to introduce UPI QR code-based payments in 10 markets across north and southeast Asia. 
  • Nepal: On February 17th, 2022, NPCI International partnered with Gateway Payment Services and Manam Infotech to enable UPI in Nepal. Nepal, according to the press release, is the first country outside of India to ‘adopt UPI as the payments platform driving the digitalization of cash transactions’.
  • UAE: On April 21st, 2022, NPCI International announced an MoU with Neopay, a payment subsidiary of Mashreq bank. UPI payments are now possible at Neopay terminals across the UAE—a country that over 63 lakh Indians travelled to in 2019.

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