India’s UPI Reaches Bhutan as NPCI’s Overseas Arm Enables UPI-Based Payments in the Neighbouring Country

India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is set to be embraced by its neighbouring country Bhutan. NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL), the international arm of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), has come into a partnership with Bhutan’s central bank Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) for enabling QR code-based UPI transactions in the country. The service will be formally launched today (Tuesday, July 13) and will enable payments through the Indian government’s BHIM app. With the new launch, Bhutan will become the first country to adopt UPI standards for its QR deployments. The country already accepts and issues India’s RuPay cards.

The launch of BHIM UPI is touted to benefit more than 200,000 Indian tourists who travel to Bhutan every year. The RMA will ensure BHIM app through UPI QR transactions is accepted at all RMA-acquired merchants in Bhutan, the NPCI said in a press statement.

“Our vision has always been focused on taking our robust and popular payments solutions to global markets”, said Ritesh Shukla, CEO, NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL).

The new experience will be launched by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a virtual ceremony that will be attended by her Bhutanese counterpart Lyonpo Namgay Tshering.

Back in December 2016, the government launched the BHIM app in the country as a local solution to enable cashless transactions. It was developed by the NPCI and is based on UPI, which enables e-payments directly through banks.

Shortly after the launch of the BHIM app, the UPI mechanism was adopted by several third parties including Paytm and PhonePe. Apps such as Google Pay (formerly called Google Tez) also debuted with UPI support.

According to NCPI data, as many as 229 banks are now live on UPI, which resulted in a combined transaction volume of 2,807.51 million worth Rs. 5,47,373.17 in June. Walmart-owned PhonePe dominates the market of UPI apps, with a share of over 46 percent. The government’s BHIM app comes sixth. It managed a share of 22.84 percent last month with transactions worth Rs. 7,319.77 crores.

The NPCI said that UPI-enabled commerce was worth $457 billion (roughly Rs. 34,04,000 crores) in 2020, which is equivalent to approximately 15 percent of India’s GDP.

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