Unified Payments Interface

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) facilitating inter-bank peer-to-peer (P2P) and person-to-merchant (P2M) transactions.[1][2] The interface is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and works by instantly transferring funds between two bank accounts on a mobile platform.

Unified Payments Interface
UPI logo
Product typeInstant real-time inter-bank payment system
OwnerNational Payments Corporation of India
Produced byNational Payments Corporation of India
Introduced11 April 2016; 6 years ago (2016-04-11)

As of February 2022, there are 304 banks available on UPI with a monthly volume of 452 crore (4.52 billion) transactions[3][4] and a value of 8.26 lakh crore (US$110 billion).[5] UPI witnessed 68 billion (68 billion) transactions till November 2021. The mobile-only payment system helped transact a total of 34.95 lakh crore (US$460 billion) during the 67 months of operation starting from 2016.[6]

As of May 2021, the platform has 15 crore (150 million) monthly active users in India.[7][8] The proportion of UPI transactions in total volume of digital transactions grew from 23% in 2018–19 to 55% in 2020–21 with an average value of ₹1,849 per transaction.[9] There were digital transactions worth ₹8.31 lakh crore in January 2022 via the platform.[10] In FY 2022, the UPI crossed transactions worth $1 trillion.[11]


In April 2009, the National Payment Corporation of India was formed with the objective to integrate all the payment mechanisms available in the country and make them uniform for retail payments. By March 2011, RBI found out that in India only six non-cash transactions happen every year per individual citizen while 10 million (10 million) retailers accept card-based payment. Around 145 million (145 million) families have no access to any form of banking. There is also the problem to tackle black money and corruption that happens mostly in cash.[12]

RBI in 2012 released a vision statement for a period of four years that indicated commitment towards building a safe, efficient, accessible, inclusive, interoperable and authorized payment and settlement system in India. It is part of the Green Initiative to decrease the usage of paper in domestic payments market.[13] UPI was officially launched in 2016 for public use.[14]

Under RBI guidance, NPCI became the primary body with the task to develop a new payment system that is simple, secure, and interoperable. UPI works on four pillar push-pull interoperable model where there will be remitter/beneficiary front end PSP (payment service provider) and remitter/beneficiary back end bank that settles the monetary transaction for the users. As per CEO of Netmagic Solutions, UPI became one of the most successful deep-tech innovation coming out of India.[12][15]

In December 2019, noting the success of UPI, Google suggested to the US Federal Reserve Board the development of FedNow, a real-time payment system for United States.[16]

With exponential growth of UPI, India became the world's largest real-time payment market with 25.50 billion (25.5 billion) annual transactions in 2020 as per data from ACI Worldwide and GlobalData leaving behind China and United States.[17]

As part of financial inclusion initiative, NPCI with fintech start-up Ubona Technologies in 2021 started working on developing a voice-based payment service for feature phone users in low connectivity zones over UPI payment ecosystem under Interactive Voice Response project. The system will use Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) signalling technology with two-factor authentication (2FA) flow for peer-to-peer (P2P) transaction. From September 2020 to June 2021, it is under beta testing and awaiting RBI approval for large scale deployment.[18] The beta testing and pilot experiment was completed by October 2021 and RBI started formulating guidelines for nationwide use.[19]

As per the Economist Intelligence Unit Report 2021, UPI made India a leader in global real-time payment market followed by China and South Korea.[20] After the decision of Ministry of Finance to nullify merchant discount rate (MDR) in 2019 on UPI, the number of low value transactions skyrocketed making huge gains on real-time transaction volume data.[21][22] Many nations such as Brazil, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United States and European Union are now trying to emulate the success of UPI in their own market.[22][23]

From January 1, 2019, UPI became a popular payment option for Initial public offerings (IPOs). The transaction limit was enhanced from ₹100,000 to ₹200,000 in March 2020. From December 2021, RBI again increased the limit to ₹500,000 for Retail Direct Scheme and IPO applications.[24] To make UPI economically feasible for payment companies, RBI is considering merchant discount rate (MDR) on future UPI transactions.[25] RBI in its first monetary policy for financial year 2022-23 proposed cardless cash withdrawal facility from ATM using UPI based QR code.[26]

UPI 2.0Edit

On 16 August 2018, UPI 2.0 was launched which enabled users to link their Overdraft accounts to a UPI handle. Users were also able to pre-authorise transactions by issuing a mandate for specific merchant. 2.0 version included a feature to view and store the invoice for the transactions. There's also an added feature of AutoPay facility for recurring payments.[27][28][29] As of August 2021, State Bank of India (SBI), Bank of Baroda (BOB) and Paytm Payment Bank are live on UPI AutoPay each registering 660,000, 204,000, and 186,000 mandates, respectively.[30]

UPI 123PAYEdit

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has launched a new UPI service, 123PAY, that is aimed to help almost 400 million (400 million) feature phone users in the country. The new feature was announced by RBI governor, Shaktikanta Das. Till now, UPI payments were only possible through payment applications on smartphones and USSD-based service for feature phones. But as per deputy governor T Rabi Shankar the latter has been found to be cumbersome due to the unavailability of the services on several mobile networks. The system will use Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) signaling technology with two-factor authentication (2FA) flow for peer-to-peer (P2P) transaction just as the normal UPI app but works with account number/phone number, whereas QR code is included in the normal system of payment in feature phones.[31][32]


Around 777 million (777 million) Indian consumers shop across the border in 2021. To make ease of payment, NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UK based PPRO Financial on 17 November 2021 to expand the acceptance of UPI into foreign markets especially in China and United States which accounts for half of all international transaction coming from India.[33] On 26 January 2022, UK based fintech startup Transact365 enabled UPI for global merchants with real time currency conversion facility that will help them do business in India independent of local presence.[34] As per NPCI and RBI mandate, banks, payment service providers (PSPs) and third-party application providers (TPAPs) in India must enable international acceptance through UPI from 30 September 2022.[35]


Due to increasing remittances to India, NIPL with Western Union is going to integrate UPI to help the Indian diaspora receive and send money abroad with ease.[36] The service will become operational from second quarter of 2022.[37] IndusInd Bank and Thailand based financial service provider DeeMoney will use UPI ID to verify customers in India for cross border transaction. This is part of Money Transfer Operator (MTO) partners programme of NPCI.[38] IndusInd Bank is planning to collaborate with more foreign entities to increase acceptability of UPI abroad.[39] NIPL on 27 January 2022 signed MoU with Netherlands based Terra Payment Services that will help UPI users receive international payments from around the globe in real time.[40]


Unified Payments Interface is a real-time payment system that allows sending or requesting money from one bank account to another. Any UPI client app may be used and multiple bank accounts may be linked to a single app. Money can be sent or requested by using a user-created Virtual Payment Address (VPA) or UPI ID that helps in sending or requesting money from a bank account using the know your customer (KYC) linked mobile number. UPI also generates a specific QR code for each user account for the purpose of contact-less payment.

Mobile appsEdit

Any UPI app can use payment and transfer fund from and to UPI enabled banks. Apart from various third-party apps such as Google Pay (previously Tez), PhonePe, Paytm, MobiKwik, Amazon Pay, Samsung Pay, WhatsApp Pay,[41] NPCI manages its own app called BHIM.[42]

From 21 banks in April 2016, the total number of banks linked to UPI platform is 304 as of Feb 2022.[43]

In June 2021, NPCI removed the restriction placed on WhatsApp on UPI customer onboarding which till now was limited to 20 million (20 million) users. With 530 million (530 million) registered users in the Indian market, WhatsApp can now formally introduce UPI to all its customers.[44]

On-Device walletEdit

Since 50% of UPI transactions are below ₹200 with a higher frequency rate, it creates a large backlog of volume which increases the failure rate and affects the stability of the entire payment network. To save electricity consumption and computing power of banks, UPI mobile apps will have to support on-device wallet features as per the RBI directive from December 2021. The in-built wallet will help in low-value instant payment by using the infrastructure of the mobile app developer, thus decreasing the load on banks through decentralisation of back-end infrastructure and resources.[24]

Supported banksEdit

The website of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) lists the banks that facilitate UPI.[45] Banks here are termed as Payment Service Providers (PSP) – listed with their UPI application and handle – and issuers.[45] PSP includes those banks which have their own mobile application to facilitate transaction and issuers include banks which don't have their payments interface and rely on third-party software for transaction using UPI.



e-RUPI or e₹UPI (portmanteau of electronic Rupee and UPI)[46][47] developed in collaboration with Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and National Health Authority. It was introduced from 2 August 2021. e-RUPI is to ensure leak proof delivery of welfare services and bypassing middle man to decrease corruption. Private sector can use the service for their own corporate social responsibility initiative (CSR). e-RUPI is basically e-voucher based on QR code or SMS string that can be delivered through mobile phone.[48] e-RUPI will act as a precursor for future Central bank digital currency (CBDC) that will be launched by RBI as it will help in highlighting the gaps within the national digital payment infrastructure.[49][50]

Financial Software and Systems (FSS) integrated e-RUPI on 1 December 2021 for financially under-served segments of the society.[51] Government of Karnataka partnered with NPCI to provide student scholarship through e-RUPI which can even be received on feature phones.[52]

Market shareEdit

From 93,000 transactions in August 2016 that valued ₹30 million, UPI generated 800 million (800 million) transactions in March 2019 with a total value of ₹1330 billion.[15] In June 2021, UPI recorded 1940,000 (1.94 million) initial public offering (IPO) mandates that increased to 7660,000 (7.66 million) in July.[53] This is the highest ever since UPI was made mandatory by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for domestic retail investors for IPO process.[54][55] With 18 billion (18 billion) of annual transactions, UPI surpassed American Express (AmEx) by late August 2020 in India. NITI Aayog predicted that UPI will also surpass Visa and Mastercard by 2023.[56] UPI took three years to reach 1.14 billion (1.14 billion) in October 2019 while by the end of October 2020, the payment system registered 2.07 billion (2.07 billion) transactions.[14] In 2020, $457 billion worth of value moved on UPI platform which was 15% of India's gross domestic product (GDP).[57]

As of July 2021, UPI registered 43.25 crore (432.5 million) transactions that accounted for ₹56,734.5 crore with highest average daily transaction of approximately 10 crore (100 million) that is double the amount from July 2020.[58][59] Till August 2021, UPI forms 10% of all retail payment in India.[60] PhonePe and Google Pay both recorded 1 billion (1 billion) transactions in August with a market share of 45.94% and 34.45% respectively in the UPI payment ecosystem while Paytm took 11.94% share with ₹387.85 million transaction.[61]

From the financial year 2015–21, the domestic retail payment by value on UPI grew at 18% at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) while between 2017 and 2021, the collective payment on all forms of UPI grew at 400% CAGR. In the financial year 2021, ₹41 trillion (short scale) worth of money was exchanged on the UPI platform that is 2.8 times the value of debit and credit card payment at point of sale (POS) terminals and 20 times the value of digital wallet and prepaid instruments in India.[60]

UPI registered 355 crore (3.55 billion) transactions in August 2021, showing 9.56% growth from the previous month. In terms of value, ₹6.39 lakh crore worth of money was transacted in August alone. From ₹3.2 lakh crore to ₹6 lakh crore, the growth in value terms doubled between September 2020 to July 2021.[62] It had reached an all-time high of 3.65 billion transactions worth ₹6.54 lakh crore in value since inception in the month of September. By now the total transaction for the year 2021, reached ₹50 lakh crore.[63]

UPI touched value of ₹7.71 lakh crore in October 2021 which is 56% jump from September. As per NPCI, daily UPI payment for the month of October is between ₹25,000 crore to ₹30,000 crore.[64] Out of all UPI transactions done in the month of October, 54% are Person-to-Person (P2P) while 46% were Person-to-Merchant (P2M).[65] UPI reached $844 billion in value till November 2021.[66] In December, the total transaction value on UPI reached ₹8.27 lakh crore with 99% annual growth rate. The largest share in $2 trillion of annual digital payment in India comes from UPI.[67]

Year No. of Banks live on UPI Transaction Volume (in Mn) INR Value (in Cr.)
2022* 304 9,145 16,58,836.00
2021 282 38,744.55 71,59,285.80
2020 207 18,880.89 33,87,744.72
2019 144 10,787.54 18,36,638.18
2018 129 3,746.32 5,85,710.45
2017 67 418.8 57,020.87
2016 35 2.65 893.07

*Data upto February 2022, source - NPCI portal[68]

~this data excludes the transactions having debit/credit to the same account for the month of August 2018 onwards




There are talks happening to operate UPI in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore which has sizeable Indian expatriates and for ease of payment for Indian tourists travelling abroad. Committee on digital payments led by Nandan Nilekani had suggested that NPCI should internationalise payment services like UPI, RuPay and BHIM.[69] NPCI is planning to link UPI with standalone mobile wallets so that users can transfer money from one provider to another one which till now is restricted due to use of closed source technology. There is also provision for off-line UPI payment through the use of near field communication (NFC).[70]

On 20 April 2020, Google added support for UPI payment in India to buy membership of YouTube Premium and YouTube Music either directly through a website or on the mobile application. Now Indian users can also buy or rent movies from Google TV. UPI is also enabled for the YouTube SuperChat feature.[71]

From July 2021, Apple iPhone, iPad, and IPod Touch users in India can use UPI on App Store and iTunes Store.[72] NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) is planning to extend UPI to markets such as United States, West Asia and Europe.[73] On 4 August 2021, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance started supporting UPI AutoPay feature for insurance payment.[74][75]

In August 2021, Dish TV introduced UPI scan and pay feature for the first time in a nationwide rollout due to COVID-19 restriction and heavy demand for no contact digital payment solutions.[76] From 31 August 2021, Netflix integrated UPI AutoPay feature for Indian subscribers which was till now limited to credit and debit cards from Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Diners Club International.[77] As per April 2021 RBI Monetary Policy Committee directive, after March 31, 2022, all the know you customer (KYC) compliant digital wallets will become interoperable by using UPI system.[78] In August 2021, Hotstar started supporting UPI AutoPay feature. The Hindu, Times Prime, PayU, Financial Software and Systems, Testbook Edu Solutions, Open Financial Technologies, Angel Broking and 5Paisa Capital moved to UPI AutoPay in September 2021.[79]

Due to high usage, Samsung Electronics integrated UPI barcode scanner directly into mobile camera application for faster payment.[80] On 3 January 2022, SonyLIV launched UPI AutoPay for all its subscribers.[81] NPCI with Jio introduced UPI AutoPay for prepaid and postpaid mobile subscribers from 6 January 2022.[82]


Cross border digital payment service provider Liquid Group signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NIPL in September 2021 to introduce UPI based QR code payment system in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan from 2022.[83][84] NIPL signed MoU with Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) on 8 March 2022 to link UPI with Buna Payment Platform that is connected with the central banks and financial institutions from Arab region. This will help in cross border multi currency transaction.[85][86]


UPI is accepted at merchant locations to ease transaction experience of Indian tourists.[87] The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will operationalise interoperability between UPI and PayNow from July, 2022.[88]


On 13 July 2021, UPI made available to Bhutan through Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan.[89] Bhutan became the first country to accept UPI transactions through the BHIM app.


In 2021, Malaysian company Merchantrade Asia partnered with NIPL to send remittance in India through UPI infrastructure.[90]

United Arab EmiratesEdit

LuLu Financial Holding, a subsidiary of LuLu Group International signed MoU with NIPL in August 2021, to offer real time remittance to India from United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Middle Eastern region.The MoU will help LuLu Financial Holding and its affiliates to connect with the UPI infrastructure and help in validation, compliance checks and facilitate all the requisite protocols for a safer cross border monetary transaction.[91] NIPL tied up with Mashreq bank in 2021 to increase UPI person-to-person (P2P) and person to merchant (P2M) transactions in UAE.[1]

Network International on 18 November 2021 signed MoU with NIPL for acceptance of UPI in UAE through its network. Merchants under Network International will able to accept UPI payment from Q1 2022.[92] On 21 April 2022, UPI went live and started accepting payment through NeoPay, a payment subsidiary of Mashreq bank.[93]


On 17 February 2022, NIPL announced that it will deploy UPI in Nepal for person to person (P2P), person to merchant (P2M) and to enable cross border remittances with India in collaboration with Nepal's Manam Infotech and Gateway Payments Service.[94]

Future marketEdit


During a bilateral virtual summit on 21 March 2022, India proposed early integration of UPI with Australian New Payment Platform to improve higher education access and tourism potential.[95]


India and Russia expressed interest in continuing dialogue on accepting UPI and Faster Payments System (FPS) of Central Bank of Russia within their respective national payment infrastructures.[96]

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