The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which is the umbrella body for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, has issued a circular, saying non-resident Indians (NRIs) will soon be able to make payments in Unified Payments Interface (UPI) without the need of 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 their NRE (Non-Residential External)/NRO (Non- Resident Ordinary) accounts. 

The NPCI had been receiving queries related to the non-resident and other permissible accounts having international numbers to be allowed to transact in UPI. "And there have been customer demands in the ecosystem to enable UPI for their NR accounts to have international numbers and experience the seamless and instant journey of UPI," says the circular.

The NPCI has asked all member partner banks to comply with its directives by April 30, 2023. It has been said that all onboarding or transactional level checks as per UPI guidelines will be applicable for such NRI accounts, including the cooling period, risk rules, etc.

The countries that have been included in the list are Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. To begin with, the NPCI will enable transactions from mobile numbers having country codes of these countries only. However, the facility will be extended for other country codes in near future, it adds.

The development is significant as it'll help students studying abroad, family members and businesses in these select countries to use UPI to transact between their own bank accounts in India and abroad without having an Indian SIM card. So far, NRIs could only carry out transactions via Indian mobile numbers. UPI has gained immense popularity in India in the past few years, with the transaction value touching ₹12,82,055.01 crore in December 2022, a significant rise from ₹8,26,848.22 crore worth of transactions in the year-ago period.

In its directions to the partners, the NPCI has said for NRE or NRO accounts with international mobile numbers to transact in UPI, they must operate within the extant FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) rules and other Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines. 

"All the necessary anti-money laundering or combating of financing of terrorism checks and compliance validation or account level validations as per the extant rules applicable under the regulator guidelines will be the responsibility of the remitter or beneficiary banks," Kunal Kalawatia, chief of products, NPCI, said.

UPI or Unified Payments Interface is a real-time payment system, which powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application of any partner bank. It also caters to “peer-to-peer” transactions.

UPI allows immediate money transfer through mobile devices round-the-clock and all different bank accounts can be accessed on a single mobile application. It provides single-click two-factor authentication, making the payment process seamless. Virtual addresses of the customer for pull and push also provide incremental security as they are not required to enter details like card numbers, account numbers, IFSC, etc.

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