India UPI expanding services to Singapore

The Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which is India’s national payment network, is now merging with the PayNow quick payment system in Singapore in order to broaden the scope of its services beyond the boundaries of India. The service was inaugurated by Shaktikanta Das, governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, via the use of token transactions made possible by the connectivity between UPI and PayNow.

Through the integration of UPI and PayNow, users in both countries will have the ability to transmit money rapidly across international boundaries. It is possible to transfer or receive money from India by using merely a UPI-id, a cellphone number, or a virtual payment address for money that is housed in bank accounts or electronic wallets. The instant real-time payment method offered by UPI enables the quick transfer of funds between two bank accounts via the use of a mobile app.

At the outset, the State Bank of India, the Indian Overseas Bank, the Indian Bank, and the ICICI Bank will act as facilitators for outbound remittances. Both Axis Bank and DBS Bank India will work to make it easier to receive money sent from outside. Users in Singapore will get the service through DBS Bank and Liquid Group as the providers.

The ICICI Bank is also participating in the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) scheme that is being implemented in India. The CBDC pilot program in India was first introduced in two stages: the first was in November 2022 for the wholesale sector, and the second was in December for retail consumers. Since the beginning of the pilot program, the digital rupee initiative has recorded 770,000 transactions that have been conducted by eight different banks. There are now five cities taking part in the experiment, and there is a possibility that nine other cities may join the study shortly.

“This is a significant value addition for India’s payment rails considering that there is close to 30 percent of the people in Singapore who are expatriates, and that they transfer money to India once a month or once every three months. Because of this integration, friction is eliminated, which in turn reduces processing time and costs.

The introduction of COVID-19 has contributed significantly, over the course of the previous several years, to the expansion of India’s digital payment infrastructure. However, the government is wary of cryptocurrencies and has imposed a tax of thirty percent on any earnings made from their use. This has caused big participants in the industry to leave the nation. The government, on the other hand, is eager to use blockchain technology for its CBDC program, with the expectation that current infrastructure would assist in scaling up its CBDC program.


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Reliance Retail accept digital rupee at one store

Reliance Retail, one of the largest retail chains in India, has made an announcement stating that they have begun taking the digital rupee at one of their shop lines and have plans to roll out the implementation to all of their companies.

According to a story published by Tech Crunch, the business has said that support for central bank digital currency (CBDC) has already been pushed out at its gourmet shop line, Freshpik. Additionally, the company said that it will be increasing support for the digital rupee across all of its domains. This is a step that has the potential to speed up the adoption of CBDC inside the nation.

An official at Reliance Retail named V Subramaniam said that the company’s decision to accept the digital currency issued by the country’s central bank is in line with its mission to provide Indian customers with “the power of choice.” The CEO also emphasised the fact that the company is now able to offer customers in its shops an additional method of payment as a result of the project.

The article states that in order to roll out support for the CBDC, Reliance Retail teamed with ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and the fintech business, Innoviti Technologies. Customers who choose to make their purchases with digital rupees will be given a QR code at the register to use in order to finalise their transactions.

In a note that was 51 pages long and published on October 7, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) detailed its plans for the country’s CBDC. The nation’s central bank outlined a number of considerations, one of which was the potential for both good and negative consequences. According to the Reserve Bank of India, one of the primary goals of a CBDC is to cut down on the overhead expenses associated with cash management.

In November 2022, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) began testing a wholesale version of the digital rupee with participating institutions and businesses. The CBDC pilot programme for retail customers was launched by the central bank on December 1, 2022, and it was limited to a restricted user group consisting of customers and merchants.


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Bitcoin, Ether, and NFTs will ‘never become legal tender’ in India, says Finance Secretary

T.V. Somanathan, the finance secretary for the Indian government, is reportedly pushing back against the narrative cryptocurrencies will be widely accepted in the country — by dismissing the possibility of using them as legal tender.

According to a Wednesday tweet from Asian News International, Somanathan said that a digital rupee backed by the Reserve Bank of India, or RBI, will be accepted as legal tender, but major cryptocurrencies have no chance of doing so. The finance secretary added that because digital assets including Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) do not have authorization from the government, they will likely remain “assets whose value will be determined between two people.”

“Digital rupee issued by RBI will be a legal tender,” said Somanathan. “Rest all aren’t legal tender, will not, will never become legal tender. Bitcoin, Ethereum or NFT will never become legal tender […] You can buy gold, diamond, crypto, but that will have not the value authorization by government.”

The finance secretary added:

“People investing in private crypto should understand that it does not have the authorisation of government. There is no guarantee whether your investment will be successful or not, one may suffer losses and government is not responsible for this.”

Somanathan’s words followed Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing yesterday that the country planned to launch a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, by 2023, adding it could provide a “big boost” to the digital economy. She also proposed that transactions on digital assets be taxed at a rate of 30%.

Related: India misinterpreted private crypto ban, says crypto bill creator

Indian lawmakers have previously floated a bill which could have banned the use of “private cryptocurrencies” in the country. However, a Tuesday bulletin from India’s lower house of parliament showed the legislation was not being considered during its Budget Session through May. Instead, the government announced a training event for lawmakers regarding crypto and its effects on the economy.