Mobile wallet companies seek open access to UPI framework

BENGALURU: With the government launching the unified payment interface (UPI)-based mobile app BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) on Friday, some mobile wallet players such as MobiKwik have called for open access to the UPI infrastructure, citing the recently-released Ratan Watal Committee report.

UPI is a payment infrastructure part of the India Stack, a set of APIs for services such as eKYC and Aadhaar. “While we welcome the BHIM app for giving a further push to digital payments, I think there needs to be a levelplaying field. Payment companies are doing a lot to create a digital payments ecosystem along with banks, especially after demonetisation.

Not keeping wallets part of UPI is not correct,” MobiKwik cofounder Bipin Preet Singh said, adding that all protocol of payments should be kept open to authorised players, as recommended by the Watal Committee.

The committee, headed by former finance minister Ratan Watal, recommended among many things that access to payment system be opened up to non-bank payment service providers.

PhonePe’s cofounder Sameer Nigam said it will take time before UPI is opened up to prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) such as wallets. “I don’t foresee them agreeing till there is more standardisation and banks become comfortable with UPI,” Nigam said.

While some industry experts feel that UPI will be the death knoll for wallets, others believe that both will coexist through interoperability.

While UPI is only an infrastructure and wallet players have so far argued that their products are what make UPI accessible to end-users, the BHIM app has put that argument in doubt.