Cashless future: Under-rated UPI scores over most e-wallet apps

Mobile wallet adoption surged manifold as the government began crackdown on black money scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. A relatively simpler option to transact cashlessly, however, is Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Here’s why:


The government’s demonetisation drive is part of a definitive push towards a cashless future, besides the evident effort to crack down on black money.

Possession of invalid Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes or the lack of any cash has pushed citizens, especially the urban masses, to adopt mobile wallets for payments and purchases.

A relatively simpler option to transact cashlessly, however, is Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Here’s why:

Ease of Use

UPI enables funds transfer between two bank accounts without using a bank account number and the transaction is as simple as a sending a text message. You can simply download a bank’s UPI app and create a Virtual Payment Address (VPA) —MobileNumber@bankname or firstname@bankname.

It is mandatory for payees and payers to have a bank account to use UPI for funds transfer. Users can punch in the merchant’s VPA and the amount to transfer money. Similarly, to receive money from, let’s say a friend, the user needs to share VPA with the payer.

UPI thus ensures a hassle-free transaction at grocery stores, retail outlets, in city transport modes. You could even use UPI at a tea stall without having to worry about tendering exact change.

Stay within banking system

Funds transferred through UPI are bank-to-bank transactions. The money, therefore, circulates within the banking system.

On the other hand, a mobile wallet is a virtual location to store money. Even though a bank account is required to load a mobile wallet, users are taken out of banking system. Besides, there are no cross-wallet money transfers. Users cannot transfer money from Wallet A to Wallet B operated by a different player.

Transaction Fees

UPI transactions do not incur banking charges. There is a fee attached to wallet-to-bank transfers, although some operators have waived off transaction charges to spur wallet adoption during the demonetisation drive.

Real-time transfer

Mobile wallet requires a user to key in card/banking details. This could be a time-consuming process. UPI only requires VPA and funds are transferred immediately.

Achilles Heel

Mobile wallets have a very easy-to-navigate user interface. Operators have also been quite proactive designing and making keeping novice users in mind.

UPI banking apps, on the contrary, use terminologies which are difficult to grasp and thereby disincentivise first-time users.