The following new features are now live on Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) announced on September 6 at the Global Fintech Fest in Mumbai:
1. Credit Line on UPI: This new feature allows users to pay using pre-sanctioned credit lines from banks via UPI. Credit lines are pre-approved borrowing limits. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) gave the go-ahead to banks to enable this feature on September 4 and on September 6 NPCI showed how the feature works and which entities are currently offering it. We’ve covered what are credit lines and how do users, merchants, and banks benefit from it in more detail here.
UPI apps that currently support credit lines include BHIM, Google Pay, Paytm, and PayZapp. Banks that currently offer credit lines on UPI include Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank, and SBI Bank.
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2. Conversational payments using voice assistants: NPCI announced two new features that allow users to make payments using their voice. RBI had hinted at these features in August.
- Hello! UPI: This feature will allow users to make UPI payments with voice instructions via UPI apps, telecom calls, and IoT devices (voice assistants). With feature phones, users can make a call to initiate a voice-based UPI payment. This feature is currently available in Hindi and English and is powered by language models build by a startup called AI4Bharat. “This expansion will broaden payment accessibility for most Indians who are fluent in their native languages, providing significant benefits to senior citizens and digitally inexperienced individuals,” NPCI said. Interestingly, while the demo of voice payments with a feature phone worked as expected, the demo using BHIM app on a smartphone did not and had to be skipped.
- Bharat BillPay Connect: This feature allows users to fetch and pay bills through voice commands on their smart home devices. The demo showed users paying their electricity bill using Amazon Alexa smart speaker. Users can also pay bills by either calling the nationalised BillPay number or by messaging the number on WhatsApp.
3. Tap & Pay using NFC: Besides the conventional way of paying by scanning a QR code, users will now also be able to tap and pay using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. NFC is a contactless payment method where you bring an NFC-enabled smartphone near an NFC-enabled payment terminal to complete a transaction.
The demo showed a user making payments on an NFC-enabled phone by tapping on QR-code stands from Paytm and BharatPe that had NFC technology embedded in them. The cost of these NFC-enabled QR-code stands is probably “less than a vada pav,” the NPCI presenter remarked. This addresses a significant concern we had raised earlier about whether these NFC-enabled devices will pose a monthly rental cost that might be unfavorable to smaller merchants.
Interestingly, the demo showed tap and pay working on an iPhone through the BHIM app. While tap and pay payments with Android devices have been available through certain apps like Samsung Pay for a while now (for debit and credit cards), iPhones haven’t seen a similar feature in India yet. The UPI implementation of Tap & Pay on the iPhone would be the first time the iPhone NFC technology is being used for payments in India. We were, however, unable able to test the feature out for ourselves as an update to BHIM app with these new features hasn’t been released yet.
4. Offline payments via UPI Lite X: This features builds on the UPI Lite feature, which is an on-device wallet feature launched in March 2022 for small-value transactions. You can read more about UPI Lite in our explainer here. UPI Lite X allows users to send and receive money via their UPI Lite wallet even when they are offline, such as in areas with poor connectivity. However, UPI Lite X works only if the sender and receiver have NFC-enabled devices. It’s not clear why UPI Lite X is not supported with QR code scanning, considering that QR codes are more ubiquitous than NFC-enabled terminals.
To watch a live demonstration of all the above features, check out the video below:
5. Withdraw money from ATM using UPI: Customers will soon be able to withdraw money from an ATM using UPI rather than debit or credit cards. This feature was not announced by NPCI formally, but was showcased at the Global Fintech Fest as a demo. It might go live in the coming days. The following video showcases the feature:
Here's a demo of India's first UPI ATM which has been unveiled at the Global Fintech Fest!
— Moneycontrol (@moneycontrolcom) September 6, 2023
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