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PhonePe launches feature to allow international UPI payments

In a significant push to take the United Payments Interface (UPI) global, on Tuesday, fintech decacorn PhonePe launched support for UPI international payments, allowing PhonePe’s Indian users travelling abroad to pay foreign merchants using UPI instantly. 

PhonePe claims to be the first fintech app to launch this feature in India, which will support all international merchant outlets in the UAE, Singapore, Mauritius, Nepal, and Bhutan that have a local QR code. Users can make payments in foreign currency directly from their Indian banks as they do with international debit cards. 

Users can activate their UPI-linked bank account for UPI international at the merchant location or before their international trip via the PhonePe app. The flow is secure and will require the customer to enter their UPI pin to activate the service.

“UPI international payments is the first major step in letting the rest of the world experience UPI. I am sure this launch will prove to be a game-changer and will completely transform the way Indians travelling overseas pay at merchant outlets abroad,” said Rahul Chari, CTO and Co-founder of PhonePe. 

In 2022, UPI transactions rose to 74 billion transactions worth Rs 125.94 trillion. According to the NPCI, UPI transactions reached a record Rs 7.82 billion in December.

Over this year, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), in collaboration with NIPL (NPCI International Payments Limited), plans to roll out UPI international to more countries while enabling greater merchant acceptance in the regions where the feature is currently live.

Recently, NPCI announced that NRIs with NRE or NRO accounts with banks in India could soon start using UPI with their international mobile numbers, marking a significant moment for India’s UPI going global.

At present, this facility is available only for NRIs from countries, including Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the UK.

According to NPCI, PhonePe has been the top UPI service provider in India, with the fintech major processing nearly 50% of the transactions in December 2022. It processed around 367.42 crore transactions worth Rs 6.49 lakh crore during the month—almost 46.92% market share.

(This story was updated with PhonePe’s UPI market share.)

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