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Bharat QR Code: Here's everything you need to know about India's new digital payment system

The new Bharat QR Code will make PoS terminals and card swipe machines redundant. Here’s how it works and everything else you want to know about it.

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The Indian government has been making a big push for digital payments since demonetization of old currency notes. In a move to promote Digital India initiative and encourage cashless payments, the government has introduced Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for smartphones, and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) based mobile banking for basic and feature phones. The government has also introduced Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app, which is a unified UPI app, and Aadhaar Pay that enables you to make cashless money using Aadhaar card and your fingerprint for biometric authentication. Now, to further ease the payments process, government has introduced Bharat QR Code for cashless electronics payments.

Over the past few years, a lot of people have moved on from making cash based payments to cashless payments using credit and debit cards. However, this mode of electronic payment for cashless transactions has strings attached in terms of transaction fees and the cost of owning and running the card swipe machines. With Bharat QR Code, the government has taken yet another step to promote digital payments by simplifying things for merchants and also for the consumers. Let’s dive in a little deeper to understand what is Bharat QR Code all about, how it works and what are the benefits.

A look at current QR Code-based payments

The QR code-based payments are accepted by most merchants across India, but they are largely closed systems. Visa is a pioneer in QR Code payments and it has already launched mVisa in India a year-and-a-half ago. Last year, DTH operator TataSky had partnered with Visa to allow and accept QR code-based payments from its subscribers. In fact, mVisa is the widely accepted payment option across the globe. ALSO READ: How to use USSD-based mobile banking, here’s everything you should know

In November 2016, MasterCard launched its ‘Masterpass QR service’ in partnership with Ratnakar Bank’s Ongo payment wallet. RuPay was also expected to come up with its QR code-based solution, but there is no word as yet. Since demonetization, e-wallet apps such as Paytm, Freecharge and Mobikwik, among others have also seen a surge in usage. While these wallet apps also allow QR code-based payments, both parties need to have the app.

For instance, if you are transferring money using Paytm, the recipient needs to have Paytm account and app installed in their smartphone. However, there is no unified solution for the same. Meaning, I won’t be able to transfer money from Paytm wallet to a recipient using Freecharge or MobiKwik. This is where Bharat QR Code will greatly help. ALSO READ: Demonetization: How to get started with UPI apps and go cashless to beat the cash crunch

What is Bharat QR Code and what are its benefits?

Bharat QR Code is a common QR code built for ease of payments. It is a standard that will support Visa, MasterCard and Rupay cards for wider acceptance. Currently, if you want to make a cashless payment at most stores, you need a credit and debit card to swipe and enter the PIN code for authentication. ALSO READ: Unified Payments Interface: UPI-based apps of every bank on Google Play Store

However, Bharat QR code will enable the merchants to accept digital payments without the Point of Sale (PoS) swiping machine. It will allow customers of any bank to use their smartphone app to make payment using their debit card. In terms of benefits, merchants will no longer need to invest in buying the PoS machine. With no PoS machine, merchants will also be able to do away with the transaction fees charged by the banks for using the PoS terminal.

How to make payments to merchants using Bharat QR Code

Currently, Bharat QR is integrated into ICICI Bank’s Pockets app and HDFC Bank’s PayZApp, with more banks expected to update their apps with support for the same. I tried making payment using ICICI Bank’s Pocket app and it worked like a charm. To test the feature, I generated a QR code using BHIM app. Next, I used Pocket’s app to scan the QR code and the payment successfully went through via UPI. ALSO READ: PM Narendra Modi launches BHIM app for mobile payments; here’s how it works

In short, you will need your bank app or BHIM app installed in your phone. At the merchant’s store, open the app, tap on Scan QR Code or Scan & Pay (option will differ from one bank to the other) and scan the Bharat QR Code. Once the code is scanned, you will have to enter the amount that you want to pay, add a remark and enter your four-digit passcode. Once authentication is complete, the money will be transferred to the merchant’s bank account.

How will merchants benefit from Bharat QR Code?

Merchants will simply need to generate the Bharat QR Code, take a print out and stick itat their payment desk. The payment will take place via (Immediate Payment Service) IMPS and the money will be instantly creditedinto their bank account. Unlike Paytm,Freecharge and Mobikwik, merchants will no longer have limits on the amount of money that they can accept every month. Also, the hassle of transferring money from wallet to bank account will be eliminated — further making it easier accept digital money. ALSO READ: Aadhaar Payment App: Here’s how it will ease payments process for everyone

Security benefits of Bharat QR Code

Currently, when you give your credit / debit card to swipe, there is negligible possibilities of someone capturing crucial details such as card number, expiry date and CVV. While OTP option is enabled for two-step-verification before authenticating transaction, the risk of exposing your card details still remains. In case of Bharat QR code, the transaction is completed with enhanced security, and card details remain in customer’s control, which is a big advantage.

BONUS VIDEO: How to use the BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) Android App for UPI payments

  • Published Date: February 20, 2017 3:25 PM IST