The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has mandated in a recent announcement that every UPI application must be able to scan BharatQR codes and respond to merchant payment requests. The deadline to adhere to the guideline for all banking apps is April 16.
“Above interoperability features must be enabled by April 16, 2018 by all BHIM UPI apps. The other compliance as per earlier circulars shall continue to be applicable. PSP bank must decline such transactions from non-compliant BHIM UPI apps after 16th April 2018 proactively. NPCI reserves the rights to decline the transactions for such non-compliant apps,” NPCI circular reads.
The features that NPCI deems mandatory to be brought for apps to allow fund transfer using any UPI payment address. The apps should also be able to respond to collect request from other UPI addresses, and generate as well as scan Bharat QR and UPI QR codes.
The push for the Bharat QR codes is understandable, considering that Bharat QR was launched a year ago with collaborations made with Mastercard, Visa and American Express. However, it failed to pick popularity in this span of time as well.
Another reason for this push is NPCI’s aim to drive digital payments into brick and mortar stores. As of now, QR codes from mobile wallets like Paytm are widely being used but primarily at the merchant level. With BharatQR, the banking body wants to ensure that merchants and customers don’t have to rely on a particular payment app or wallet.
Though, according to a report by MediaNama, apps like Amazon Pay and few others have been kept out of the mandate since they might not want to push UPI for peer-to-peer transactions.
Finally, while there are a lot of existing apps that support the interoperability when it comes to QR payments and peer-to-peer transfers, there are still platforms like WhatsApp that are trying to bypass it. For such platforms, NPCI has released a deadline, after which they will be kicked off the system if not complied with.
Last month, WhatsApp launched its UPI-powered payments service in India, which is still under testing. However, the feature’s release was followed by a lot of concerns, one especially from Paytm regarding how the lack of interoperability and the open system of the feature could be potentially harmful.