Unified Payment Interface (UPI), an instant financial transaction system facilitated through mobile devices, has transformed how Indians manage their finances. Initially intended for domestic transactions, UPI is now available in foreign countries for Indians and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to execute international transactions.
As digital payment systems like UPI gain momentum, it becomes crucial to understand how to navigate this platform while abroad.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to France announced the availability of UPI payments in the country. The Indian travellers are finding it convenient to use UPI payments in foreign countries.
How does UPI work abroad?
Making UPI payments abroad requires users to register their bank account with a UPI-enabled mobile app. After linking their bank account, users must furnish the recipient details, including their bank account number, IBAN, and BIC, together with the transfer amount and currency.
Once the process is finished, Indian travellers can use UPI to immediately start transferring money to account holders from partner countries. However, travellers should note that their transactions will still be subject to certain fees like conversion charges, foreign exchange fees and more.
The Indian government has been actively encouraging the adoption of UPI for cross-border transactions. This push has seen countries like France, Bhutan, Oman, UAE, and several Southeast Asian nations integrating UPI into their payment systems. Moreover, for international transfers, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which manages UPI platform, has collaborated with two major global financial service providers, Wise and Western Union.
Further aiding this process is the collaboration between NPCI International Payments Ltd (NIPL) and various payment processors in foreign countries like NEOPAY, the payment subsidiary of Mashreq bank in the UAE; PayNow in Singapore and Lyra in France.
These partnerships enable Indian tourists to make secure payments through BHIM UPI at digital-enabled shops and merchant stores in these countries.
How NRIs can use UPI
Non-Resident Indians UPI using their international mobile numbers linked to their Non-Residential External (NRE) or Non-Residential Ordinary (NRO) accounts. NPCI recently issued new guidelines permitting NRIs with NRE or NRO accounts to set up UPI with their country-specific mobile numbers. However, the activation of a UPI ID still requires a valid Indian mobile number. With UPI being accessible in 10 countries, including the US, UK, UAE, and Singapore, the expanding digital infrastructure can also benefit international students, families abroad, and local businesses.
Moreover, foreign travellers from G-20 countries arriving at select international airports in India like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru can also utilise Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) wallets linked to UPI for making payments at merchant outlets.