Increasing RuPay, UPI Acceptance In EU, Middle East Helps Indian Travelers Spend With Ease

rupay, payments, digital, india, RBI, UPI

When the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) outlined its vision for a national payment system that would rival international card schemes, its primary goals were to reduce the cost burden on banks and the country’s dependency on foreign processors.

And in the eight years since the launch of India’s domestic card network, RuPay, local and increasingly international businesses have adapted to accept the payment method.

By June 2017, RuPay had surpassed Visa as India’s largest card network by transaction volume, and by November 2020, its market share had increased to more than 60% of all cards issued in the country.

See more: India’s UPI Platform Logs Record $100B in Transactions

Having since secured a significant share of India’s domestic transactions, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has in recent years turned to international partnerships to boost the acceptance of RuPay cards for Indians traveling abroad.

Most recently, French payment technology company Worldline announced that it has reached an agreement with the NPCI that will enable the integration of RuPay and India’s real-time account-to-account (A2A) payment system, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), into Worldline’s European infrastructure.

Read on: Worldline Enables Indian Payment Methods RuPay and UPI in Europe

As a result, European merchants using point-of-sale (POS) systems connected to the Worldline network can now accept payments made with RuPay cards.

Meanwhile, UPI, which powers a number of India’s mobile payment solutions, has been connected to Worldline’s QR-based payment system, allowing Indian consumers to use their mobile payment apps to make A2A payments across Europe.

While the latest partnership is one of the most significant international agreements for the NPCI to date, the organization has been busy in recent times expanding its payment systems to international merchant networks.

Earlier this month, a bilateral agreement between the NPCI and the Central Bank of Oman was announced to enable RuPay cards and UPI mobile wallets to be used in the Gulf State of Oman. At the same time, the NPCI will facilitate payments made via Oman’s Mobile Payments Clearing and Settlement System (MPCSS) for its Indian merchants.

Learn more: PYMNTS GCC Series: Still in Its Infancy, Oman FinTech Hub Shows Huge Potential for Growth

In August, the NPCI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with PayXpert that will see the FinTech firm become the first acquirer in the U.K. to facilitate RuPay and UPI payments.

Expanding RuPay, UPI Acceptance Globally

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the U.K. are considered among the countries home to the largest Indian diaspora communities in the world. As such, moves made to increase the acceptance of Indian payments in the U.K. and Gulf region will most likely be welcomed by the large communities of Indian expatriates living there.

The UAE became the first Middle Eastern nation to start accepting RuPay cards in 2019, thanks to the domestic payment FinTech Mercury Payment Services. Since April, merchants using NEOPAY PoS terminals have also been able to accept UPI payments.

Three years after an MoU was signed between India and Saudi Arabia to roll out RuPay acceptance there, commercial ministers of the respective countries finally met last month to discuss the operationalization of the scheme.

And in 2021, the Bahraini FinTech BENEFIT announced that it would be enabling Rupay acceptance at ATMs and PoS terminals in the country.

Related: OpenNode to Test Bitcoin Infrastructure in Bahrain

As the delay between the initial political agreement to enable Indian payment methods in Saudi Arabia and its still-awaited practical implementation demonstrates, upgrading national payment infrastructures to enable new payment methods is a serious, time-consuming undertaking.

But India seems to be on top of the situation. A key component of the RuPay and UPI’s successful international expansion so far has been the proactive stance taken by the NPCI and Indian policymakers in working with key stakeholders to achieve their goals.

Going forward, this support will continue to be critical in allowing Indian tourists and expats to use the payment method of their choice when spending abroad.

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