Indians travelling abroad to Singapore, Nepal, Bhutan and the U.A.E. will be able to instantly pay foreign merchants using UPI (Unified Payments Interface).

PhonePe on Tuesday said it has become the first fintech app to launch support for 'UPI international' payments. The Walmart-owned digital payments giant controls over 40% market share of the UPI network.

The current launch supports all international merchant outlets in the U.A.E., Singapore, Nepal and Bhutan that have a local QR code, the company says in a statement.

Users will be able to make payments in the foreign currency directly from their Indian bank, just like they do with international debit cards.

"UPI international is designed to facilitate safe and easy transactions for millions of Indians traveling overseas. Historically, Indian customers needed to use a foreign currency, or their credit or forex cards to pay at international merchant outlets. With this feature, they can now use their Indian Bank account to pay using UPI," the statement says.

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

"Over the past six years, all over India we have been lucky to experience the UPI payments revolution transforming our daily lives. UPI international is the first major step in letting the rest of the world experience UPI too. I am sure this launch will prove to be a gamechanger and will completely transform the way Indians traveling overseas pay at merchant outlets abroad," says Rahul Chari, chief technology officer and co-founder of the fintech company.

PhonePe users can activate their UPI linked bank account for UPI international at the merchant location, or prior to their international trip, via the PhonePe App. "The flow is secure and will require the customer to enter their UPI pin in order to activate the service," the Bengaluru-based payments giant says.

The development comes days after PhonePe raised $350 million in funding from General Atlantic, a growth equity firm, at a pre-money valuation of $12 billion.

It also comes weeks after PhonePe became a fully India-domiciled company. In December 2022, the fintech firm announced its separation from e-commerce major Flipkart. Walmart, however, remains the majority shareholder in both business entities.

PhonePe plans to deploy the new funds to make significant investments in infrastructure, including the development of data centres and help build financial services offerings at scale in the country. The company also plans to invest in new businesses, including insurance, wealth management, and lending.

PhonePe claims it has over 400 million registered users, with more than one in four Indians now using the app. In December 2022, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) extended the deadline for third-party apps to comply with its 30% market share cap guidelines by two years. The NPCI said the new deadline would be December 31, 2024, from January 1, 2023, earlier.

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