Sunday, September 19, 2021

India and Singapore to boost digital payment systems

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The central banks of India and Singapore will link their digital payment systems for “instant, low-cost fund transfers”, said the two sides on Tuesday, aiming to finish the project by July 2022.

UPI, a five-year-old payments infrastructure developed by a coalition of retail banks, has become the most popular way users in India transfer money to one another and to businesses.

Linking Reserve Bank’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Monetary Authority of Singapore’s will be a “milestone in the development of infrastructure for cross-border payments”, said the Indian central bank in a press statement. The linkage will be reciprocal and won’t need users to get “onboarded” onto either payment system.

The system, adopted by scores of local and global firms including Google and Facebook, is now processing over 3 billion transactions each month. Like UPI, Singapore’s PayNow also brings interoperability between banks and payments apps, allowing users from one payment app to make transactions to those on other apps.

India’s central bank described the project as a “significant milestone in the development of infrastructure for cross-border payments” between India and Singapore, and said the linkage “closely aligns with the G20’s financial inclusion priorities of driving faster, cheaper and more transparent cross-border payments.”

Nearly 250 million people across the world send over $500 billion in cross-border remittances annually, a report by Citi said earlier this year. But the space is ripe for disruption. “The fees are extremely high. It is embarrassing that we have not solved this issue so far,” Citi analysts wrote. Global average cost for sending money is around 6.5%. The RBI and the MAS didn’t reveal the cross-border fees that they would charge their users.

“The linkage builds upon the earlier efforts of NPCI International Private Limited (NIPL) and Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS) to foster cross-border interoperability of payments using cards and QR codes, between India and Singapore and will further anchor trade, travel and remittance flows between the two countries.”

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