RBI announces new features for UPI: AI-powered conversational payments, NFC, and more

RBI has also proposed to increase the UPI Lite offline mode payment limit to Rs. 500 from Rs. 200.

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced new features for the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to improve the user experience for digital payments and expand the reach of UPI in the country. New features include a higher transaction limit for UPI Lite, offline UPI payments using NFC technology, and AI-powered conversational payments. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das unveiled these features during the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting.

Increased transaction limit for UPI Lite

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed to increase the UPI Lite offline mode payment limit to Rs. 500 to make small transactions faster. Currently, users do not need their PIN for making payments in offline mode of up to Rs. 200 per transaction using National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) and UPI Lite, and the on-device wallet limit is up to Rs. 2,000. The on-device wallet limit will remain at Rs. 2000.

“With the objective of harnessing the new technologies for enhancing digital payments experience for users, it is proposed to enhance the transaction limit of small value digital payments in offline mode to Rs 500 from Rs 200 within the overall limit of Rs 2,000 per payment instrument. These initiatives will further deepen the reach of digital payments in the country,” said RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das.

Offline UPI payments using NFC technology

Moreover, RBI is considering implementing UPI Lite offline mode payments using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. NFC allows short-range wireless communication between devices. This feature will facilitate digital transactions even in areas with poor or no internet connectivity.

“To promote the use of UPI-Lite, it is proposed to facilitate offline transactions using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This feature will not only enable retail digital payments in situations where internet/telecom connectivity is weak or not available, it will also ensure speed, with minimal transaction declines. Instructions to NPCI will be issued shortly,” said Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in a statement.

AI-powered conversational payments

RBI is also introducing AI-powered conversational payments that will allow users to make payments seamlessly and securely by engaging in a conversation with an AI-powered system. Initially, users will be able to chat in Hindi or English. Support for more Indian languages will be available later.

This feature will be available in smartphones and feature phones-based UPI applications. AI-powered conversational payments feature aims to make the digital payment process more user-friendly and accessible to everyone. RBI will provide instructions to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) for the rollout of the conversational payments feature.

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Sumit is the Editor-in-chief at OnlyTech. He loves to cover news about Windows PCs, Android, Smart Devices, and more. You can always find him experimenting with electronic devices when not in front of a computer.

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Last week, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) gave the final nod to banks for publishing their UPI-enabled apps on Google Play Store. UPI or Unified Payments Interface is an advanced version of IMPS (Immediate Payment Service) that aims to make funds transfers easier. The new payment interface eliminates the need of adding payee details such as bank name, branch, IFSC code and full name of the recipient. Instead, one needs to create a Virtual Payment Address (VPA), to send and receive payments. Now, let’s take a quick look at how to get started with UPI apps, the registration process and how to send and receive funds.

Out of the 29 participating banks, NPCI has given approval to 21 banks for publishing their apps. As of now, Axis Bank, Union Bank Of India, UCO Bank, ICICI Bank, Federal Bank, Vijaya Bank, Andhra Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Karnataka Bank and Canara Bank have published their apps. While ICICI Bank’s app is called Pockets, Canara Bank’s app is called ‘epower’ and so on. Flipkart’s PhonePe has also launched a UPI-based mobile wallet in partnership with Yes Bank. To find the UPI app of your bank, you can either search for UPI on Play Store, or type your bank name. If it is UPI enabled, the same will be written in the headline or in the description.

With UPI apps, you can make payments to services such as mobile recharge, DTH refill, utility bill payments and more. You can even transfer funds to recipients, such as your family or friends. For instance, you can use a UPI-based app to transfer money from your bank account to someone else’s bank account. Similar to IMPS, UPI based payments happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year — so you don’t have to worry about a bank holiday.

Now, to begin with, you’ll need an Android smartphone with internet access (2G/3G/4G or Wi-Fi). Support for iOS isn’t available at the moment but it will come in a few months. You will also need a bank account where your mobile number is registered for telephone banking, OTP and other transaction related messages. This is because UPI app will fetch your bank account details from your registered mobile number. If you don’t link the bank account, you could only be able to transfer money from wallet to wallet, but not to your bank account.

How to register for UPI

The registration process is pretty simple. Head over to the Google Play Store and download the UPI app of your bank. For instance, if you have an account in ICICI Bank, you can download ‘Pockets’ from the Play Store.

Step One: Once the installation is complete, open the app. You will have to enter your mobile number and create a four digit secured pin number of your choice. This secured pin will be required every time when you open the app.

Step Two: You will see an option called UPI, tap on it. You will then be asked to create a virtual payment address (VPA).

Step Three: The VPA can be as simple as your name or mobile number followed by the address, Yes Bank has ‘ybl,’ whereas ICICI Bank has ‘pockets.’ So, for instance, if your mobile number is 9820098200, your VPA could be as simple as 9820098200@ybl (for Yes Bank account) or 9820098200@pockets (for ICICI Bank account). In case of name, it can be as simple as john@pockets or johnsmith@ybl. It’s that simple.

Step Four: Once your VPA is created, in the next window, you will be asked to link your bank account. Just choose the bank from the list, and it will automatically fetch all the details.
Another interesting part of UPI based apps is that you don’t necessarily need to download the app of your bank. For instance, if you have an account in ICICI Bank, you can download the Canara Bank or Yes Bank’s UPI app and link your ICICI account. As said before, your account number details are linked with your phone number. I have two different accounts in ICICI Bank – a personal savings account and a salary account from my company. To try out the linking, I used Pockets app to create an account and link my personal savings account, and the used PhonePe app to link my salary account. It worked like a charm.

How to send money using UPI

The process for transferring funds is pretty simple. But to make UPI based transfers, the recipient also needs to be on the service and have a VPA. Talking about transaction limit, you can transfer as low as Rs 50, to as much as Rs 1 lakh.

Step One: Open the UPI and tap on UPI icon. If you have already created a VPA, you will directly be taken to manage screen. Here, you will have options such as — send money, collect money, respond to collect request and scan QR code.

Step Two: Tap on send money. The next screen will ask you for VPA of the recipient, amount and transaction remark. Enter these details and tap on next. Confirm the requested details and tap on confirm. The money will be transferred to the recipient’s VPA.

How to receive money using UPI

Say, you have given some money to your family or friend and they want to transfer it back to you, this is the time when collect money option comes into play. Here’s how you can request money from the recipient.

Step One: Tap on collect money and enter the required details — recipient’s VPA, the amount and remark. You can even schedule a transaction to collect later, say after 10 days or so. Once all details are entered, tap on next.

Step Two: You will be asked to confirm details, just cross check and tap on confirm.

This will also send a notification to the recipient on this smartphone along with an SMS, requesting for the funds. The recipient then has to open the app and tap on collect request. This option may be called something else, like on PhonePe app, it will appear in pending transactions. Upon tapping on this, user can either tap on Pay to send the funds, or decline.

Step Three: After tapping on Pay, the user will be asked to enter the four digit secured PIN and tap on submit. That’s it, funds will be instantly sent and you will get a notification about the same after you receive it.

Among the options one gets in UPI, one of it is scan QR code. Say, you are at the grocery shop, a mall or a food court and the establishment accepts UPI payments. You can open the app, scan the QR code at the payment counter and the money will be transferred from your account to the merchant, thus allowing for cashless transaction.

Besides eliminating the need of carrying cash and credit / debit cards around, UPI also does away with the OTP, making the payments process much simpler. After using UPI, this next-gen payments system does look promising and with more people starting to use it, we’re can soon move to a completely cashless economy.

Unified Payments Interface: Here’s how to register, send and receive money using UPI apps

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