India takes its instant money transfer tool UPI to Singapore

Government-owned payment app BHIM to get a soft launch during Singapore Fintech Festival.

India’s homegrown instant digital payment tool UPI (Unified Payment Interface) that has enabled over a billion digital transactions till now, is all set to launch in Singapore within a week, as part of its ongoing global expansion strategy, which started with its Dubai launch in September this year.

India’s retail payment organization National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and consortium of Singapore’s local banks that is also an electronic payment provider, Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS), are together working on this project which will be a QR based payment system. Users will have to install NPCI’s BHIM app to make payments at NETS terminals in Singapore.

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Fintech Association (SFA) as part of the growing Singapore-India fintech eco-systems.

During the fourth edition of Singapore Fintech Festival, a soft launch of BHIM is scheduled on Wednesday to demonstrate a live transaction. Apart from the launch of BHIM and UPI, 13 other Indian fintech companies showed their technology during the event.

“This is one more instrument to connect the FintTech Eco-Systems of the two countries, as there is already a very strong cooperation. A lot of Singapore fintech companies have counterparts in India,” Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, Jawed Ashraf, told media during the event.

Launched in 2016, UPI proved to be the true disruptor of India’s fintech space as it allowed instant money transfer from one person to another as well as person to business. This virtually replaced the need for e-wallets on which payment companies such as Alibaba-backed Paytm, Mobikwik, and a few others were banking on for their growth. With the advent of UPI, every digital payment company, including traditional banks had no choice but to integrate UPI in their systems.

Chia Hock Lai, president of Singapore Fintech Association, said industry-level partnerships will help both the countries to leverage each other’s strength in the fintech space.

“In recent years, India has been a country that is spearheading many Fintech initiatives and advancements with a global impact. On the other hand, Singapore has also been a very good bedrock for FinTechs, with supportive frameworks in place for them to grow and establish themselves in the region,” Lai said.