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Prepaid Payment Instruments


Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) permitted all inbound travellers from the Group of Twenty (G-20) countries and non-resident Indians to access Unified Payment Interface (UPI) for their merchant payments (P2M) at select airports while they are in the country.


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Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What does it mean?
  2. Who can utilise this system?
  3. What are prepaid payment instruments (PPIs)?
  4. What’s UPI?

What does it mean?

  • According to the RBI, banks and non-banks authorised to issue prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) can issue rupee-denominated full-KYC PPIs to foreign nationals and NRIs visiting India.
  • Such PPIs can also be issued in co-branding arrangement with entities authorised to deal in foreign exchange under FEMA.
  • The PPIs can be issued in the form of wallets linked to UPI — like Google Pay and PhonePe — and can be used for merchant payments (P2M) only.
  • Loading and reloading of such PPIs will be against receipt of foreign exchange by cash or through any payment instrument, the RBI said.

Who can utilise this system?

  • To start with, this facility will be extended to travellers from the G-20 countries, arriving at select international airports.
  • Going forward, this facility will be enabled across all other entry points in the country, the RBI said.
  • The G-20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.

What are prepaid payment instruments (PPIs)?

  • PPIs are instruments that enable the purchase of goods and services, including financial services and remittance facilities, against the value stored on them.
    • PPIs can be in the form of smart cards, magnetic stripe cards, internet accounts, internet wallets, mobile accounts, mobile wallets, paper vouchers, and other instruments used to access the prepaid amount.
How are PPIs issued?
  • The PPIs can be issued after physical verification of Passport and Visa of the customers at the point of issuance.
  • The PPI issuers should ensure that such information and record thereof are maintained with them.
  • The conversion to Indian rupee can be carried out only by entities authorised to deal in foreign exchange under FEMA.
  • The amount outstanding at any point of time in such PPIs should not exceed the limit applicable on full-KYC PPIs.
  • The unutilised balances in such PPIs can be encashed in foreign currency or transferred ‘back to source’ (payment source from where the PPI was loaded), in compliance with foreign exchange regulations, the RBI said.

What’s UPI?

  • UPI, managed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
  • Immediate money transfer through mobile devices round the clock and 365 days is possible through UPI wallets.
  • It involves a single mobile application for accessing different bank accounts.

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024