The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said starting today, all in-bound travellers visiting India can make local payments via a unified payments interface (UPI) during their stay in India. The facility was announced by the RBI in the Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies on February 8, 2023.

To start with, the facility is available to travellers from G-20 countries at select international airports (Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi). Eligible travellers would be issued Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) wallets linked to UPI for making payments at merchant outlets. "Going forward, this facility will be enabled across all other entry points in the country. Necessary operational instructions will be issued shortly," the central bank said in its policy announcements last month.

The RBI says people from G20 countries can also avail of this facility at various meeting venues. To begin with, ICICI Bank, IDFC First Bank and two non-bank PPI issuers, Pine Labs Private Limited and Transcorp International Limited will issue UPI-linked wallets. "Travellers visiting India can now experience the convenience of UPI payments at over five crore merchant outlets across India, that accept QR Code-based UPI payments," says the RBI.

The G-20 nations comprise countries like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, UK, and USA.

Notably, UPI transactions have seen an unprecedented surge in the past two years, with total transactions surging to an all-time high both in terms of value and volume at 8,036.89 million and ₹12,98,726.62 crore in January 2022, respectively.

Notably, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella body for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, is also planning to allow non-resident Indians (NRIs) to make payments in UPI without the need for an Indian mobile number.

For a start, the NPCI will allow this facility for NRIs across 10 countries, wherein they'll be able to transfer funds via the UPI platform from their NRE (non-residential external)/NRO (non-resident ordinary) accounts. For a start, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong yesterday virtually launched a real-time payments link between the UPI and PayNow of Singapore. Singapore is the first country in which a cross-border person-to-person (P2P) payment facility has been launched.

The other countries that have been included in the list are Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, the USA, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

The UPI-PayNow linkage will enable all users of the two payment systems in either country to make convenient, safe, instant, and cost-effective cross-border money transfers using their mobile apps. The linking comes at a time when UPI payments through QR codes are already available at selected merchant outlets in Singapore. Earlier this month, PhonePe became the first fintech app to launch 'UPI international' payments.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had last year said India is talking to different countries, including Singapore and the U.A.E., to make RuPay, UPI and BHIM acceptable in their countries.

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