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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The RBI will pilot retail CBDC in December

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is getting ready to conduct trials of the “digital rupee” at a number of different retail outlets throughout India. In the past, it has experimented with making wholesale transactions using a kind of digital money that was referred to as “central bank digital currency” (also known as the “CBDC”).

Within the next month, we ought to be able to see the debut of the pilot episode.

According to a report from the Economic Times of India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is reportedly coming very close to complete the essential preparations to roll out the retail digital rupee trial.

This rivalry is being taken on by a number of India’s most prestigious banks, including the State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, ICICI Bank, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, and IDFC First Bank, among others.

It would seem that at some time in the future, the scope of the pilot program will expand in order to accommodate participation from all of the commercial banks that are located around the country.

There will be between 10,000 and 50,000 customers putting the CBDC to the test in each of the areas where the participating banks have locations.

Through a combined effort on the part of the financial institutions, the PayNearby and Bankit platforms, and others, the new payment option will soon be made available to customers.

According to reports, the digital rupee will not act as a substitute for the already used mode of payment; rather, it would function in conjunction with the method. This is the expected outcome. In contrast to the original purpose of the digital rupee, which was to act as a replacement, this is not the intended purpose of the digital rupee.

On November 1, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) began testing the digital rupee in the wholesale market as part of a series of trials.

The settlement of secondary market transactions involving government securities has been the primary use case for this specific application thus far.


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Indian parliament’s agenda includes crypto training session, leaves out bill banning digital assets

The latest bulletin covering the agenda for India’s lower house of parliament includes “a lecture on understanding cryptocurrency” and its economic impact.

According to a Monday publication from the Lok Sabha, the Parliamentary Research and Training Institute for Democracies group within the government has organized a training evening for lawmakers on Feb. 2 regarding crypto and its effects on the Indian economy. In addition, the legislative business calendar for the lower house of parliament no longer includes a bill which could potentially ban crypto in the country.

Excerpt from Jan. 31 Lok Sabha publication

The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill does not appear as one of the 15 bills the government body will consider when it convenes for its Budget Session. Previously published texts of the bill propose banning “all private cryptocurrencies” in India except for assets aimed at promoting “the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.” 

The proposed legislation has popped up on the country’s parliamentary agenda multiple times since the Indian supreme court overturned a blanket ban on crypto in 2020 that had been imposed by the central bank. The Reserve Bank of India may also be moving forward soon with trials of a central bank digital currency — a digital rupee — but at the time of publication officials have not announced a test run for the CBDC.

Related: India to regulate, not ban, crypto: Cabinet documents

Many reports from local media outlets have suggested that some lawmakers in India are seeking different legislative paths to handle the growing crypto market, from proposing projects not being legally allowed to operate in the country to taxing crypto earnings differently. In October, officials from the Finance Ministry reportedly considered implementing a legal framework that could treat crypto more like a commodity than currency.

The Budget Session officially started today, with both Houses in the Indian Parliament planning to meet in separate shifts to fight the spread of COVID-19. The session is expected to run until May.