RBI Deputy Governor R Gandhi recently launched BharatQR, a world first interoperable and low-cost acceptance solution which has been developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), Mastercard, and Visa.
BharatQR is the world’s first interoperable Quick Response (QR) code acceptance solution developed by the payments industry to expedite India’s transition to a less-cash society. BharatQR was devised based on the direction set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in September 2016 as well as on its Payments Vision 2018, which outlines innovation, interoperability, and security as the three pillars to facilitate India’s transition to a less–cash society.
BharatQR has three key benefits:
Consumers will not need to scan different QR codes at the same merchant provided by different payment networks.
Merchants will only need to display one QR code at the storefront or through the acquiring bank’s mobile application.
The underlying specification for BharatQR can be implemented in other countries to deliver a globally-interoperable solution.
“BharatQR is another initiative in the Digital India journey. Using smart phones, it makes payments simple and easy for customers and merchants across the country, from their debit, credit, and pre-paid cards using a QR code common across all banks and card networks. It does not require a POS machine. It is another step towards digitalization of banking transactions,” said Rajeev Rishi, chairman, IBA and CMD, Central Bank of India, during the launch.
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Importantly, the implementation of the BharatQR standards will be seamless and only happen at the backend, meaning merchants do not need to change their existing QR codes.
NPCI, Mastercard and Visa developed BharatQR with provisions for three additional fields:
1) Bank account and IFS code,
2) Unified Payments Interface, and
These additional fields provide banks the option to populate them as QR-based payments scale in the country. American Express is also on board to adopt these standards.
A number of leading banks are already operationally ready to deploy BharatQR, including Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Citi Union Bank, Development Credit Bank, Karur Vysya Bank, and HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, RBL Bank, State Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Vijaya Bank and Yes Bank. Many other leading banks are also at various stages of implementation.
“We believe that integration of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in this service will boost the adoption rate among merchants as well as customers at large. We are pleased to collaborate with international card network companies for facilitating interoperability and to cater to India’s vast population,” said A. P. Hota, Managing Director & CEO, NPCI.
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BharatQR’s interoperability, coupled with the low-cost acceptance method, will facilitate rapid adoption by smartphone users who will simply have to “scan to pay”. Described in the industry as “push payments”, such transactions are considered highly secure as they are “customer–initiated”, instead of “merchant–initiated” and no personal information needs to be shared with the merchant.
“We look forward to leveraging our technology backbone and partnering with the government and the industry to create a robust, safe & secure digital payments ecosystem,” said Porush Singh, Country Corporate Officer, India and Division President, South Asia, Mastercard.
According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the “smartphone market in India crossed the 30 million unit shipments milestone for the first time ever in CY Q3 2016, maintaining its healthy traction with 11 percent year–on–year growth”
“The success of mVisa has proven a QR code solution to be scalable, secure and easy to use, with acceptance at more than 60,000 merchants across the country. We look forward to continuing to partner with our clients, merchants and the government to innovate and expand access to digital payments in India,” said T.R. Ramachandran, Group Country Manager, India & South Asia, Visa.