Send funds via an app without a/c number

Mumbai: You can now sendmoney to anyone without even knowing the recipient’s account number using an email-like alias through a mobile banking app. Also, use your favourite app to access your accounts in different banks.

The RBI has cleared a Unified Payment System – a platform which links bank account numbers to virtual payment addresses (aliases). The UPI-enabled app in effect turns your smartphone into a bank and has come as a boost to a cashless economy.

Just as an ATM of one bank can be used to access accounts in all banks in the network, any UPI-enabled app can be used to log into one’s accounts in other banks. Second, the interface overcomes one of the biggest pain points in sendingmoney online — that of knowing 15-digit account numbers and an 11-digit IFSC code (used to identify bank branches). Instead of account details, the receiver has to merely share an alias like xyz@axisbank. The UPI makes use of the existing Immediate Payment System (IMPS) – which allows funds transfer using bank account number, an IFSC code and other credentials.

“Real-time sending and receiving money through a mobile application at such a scale on interoperable basis has not been attempted anywhere else in the world. The UPI app will be made available on Google Play Store by banks,” NPCI managing director and CEO A P Hota said here on Thursday.

Twenty-one banks will go live over the next couple of days. But the country’s largest bank, SBI, has expressed concerns and has kept it on hold until it gets more clarity from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella organisation for retail payment systems in India. Of the 21 banks, eight banks Andhra Bank, Axis Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Bhartiya Mahila Bank, Canara Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Union Bank of India and Vijaya Bank have gone live.

“Our app is still under development. We have raised some security concerns on the registration process and transactions being timed out. The NPCI has not yet come back. We will be ready by September-end. But the decision to join will depend on NPCI coming back to us with clarifications,” said Manju Agarwal, deputy MD, SBI. HDFC Bank too is working on its application and expects to be ready in three weeks. ICICI Bank has announced that it will integrate its iMobile and Pockets app with UPI in the next few days. iMobile is for the bank’s customers, while Pockets is an app with a prepaid instrument available to anyone who downloads it.
Kotak Mahindra Bank has decided to play it safe and provide a separate application for UPI. “We are in process of development and certification of UPI-enabled app. We will launch a new app which will be UPI-enabled in 4-6 weeks. There is a significant scope in the payments space and we believe that it merits a separate app. The entire UPI ecosystem will work seamlessly once all banks have their UPI-enabled apps. Banks will have to take the effort of educating customers, as this is a new system and customers will take time to adapt to it,” said Deepak Sharma, chief digital officer, Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Nandan Nilekani, an adviser to NPCI, has been one of the biggest champions of UPI. He has been pushing for UPI as part of the India stack — an entire range of digital services — which includes Aadhaar for authentication, e-KYC, digital lockers and e-signatures that will enable all transactions to be done online.