Unified Payment Interface (UPI)

Unified Payment Interface (UPI)

GS 3- Economy


Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his commendation for the official initiation of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

He lauded the move as a significant stride towards globalizing UPI and highlighted its role in promoting digital payments while fostering stronger international ties.

This event signifies a pivotal moment in the global expansion of UPI, showcasing its potential impact on digital transactions and strengthening diplomatic relations. The launch from such an iconic landmark adds a symbolic touch to the collaborative efforts in advancing digital financial solutions worldwide.Unified Payments Interface (UPI): Revolutionizing Digital Transactions

About the UPI

  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) stands as a groundbreaking evolution of the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), offering a 24/7 funds transfer service that redefines cashless payments for increased speed, convenience, and seamlessness.
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a revolutionary system that seamlessly integrates multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application, creating a unified platform for efficient transactions. 
  • Launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in collaboration with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks Association (IBA) in 2016, UPI boasts broad participation from various entities.

Historical Context

In 2016, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) introduced UPI with the participation of 21 banks, marking a significant leap towards a cashless and interconnected digital economy.

Key Features

  • Consolidation of Bank Accounts: UPI leverages technology to consolidate multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application, streamlining various banking services.
  • Comprehensive Fund Routing: It facilitates seamless fund routing, enabling users to transfer funds between accounts effortlessly.
  • Merchant Payments: UPI integrates merchant payments, allowing users to make purchases conveniently within the same application.
  • NPCI Operation: Operated by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), UPI stands as the largest among various systems, including National Automated Clearing House (NACH), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS), Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), and RuPay.
  • Prominent UPI Apps: Widely adopted UPI apps include PhonePe, Paytm, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and BHIM—a government-backed service, collectively contributing to the exponential growth of digital transactions.
  • International Connectivity: UPI transcends borders as India's UPI is set to integrate with Singapore's PayNow, fostering global collaborations and expanding the reach of digital financial solutions.

Are BHIM and UPI the same?

No, BHIM and UPI are not the same.

Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

  • UPI is a platform that facilitates the seamless transfer of money between different banks.
  • Users can have multiple UPI apps, and each bank may have its own UPI app.
  • It operates as an underlying technology for various payment apps.

BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money)

  • BHIM is a standalone mobile wallet app based on UPI.
  • It is similar to other wallet apps like Paytm and PhonePe but specifically built on the UPI platform.
  • BHIM is an upgraded version of existing bank UPI apps.


  • UPI is a broader platform, while BHIM is a specific mobile wallet app.
  • Users may have multiple UPI apps, but BHIM is a single app that can be linked to any UPI-enabled bank account.
  • Transactions on BHIM happen directly between bank accounts, eliminating the need for recharging the app.
  • BHIM offers advantages like direct bank-to-bank transactions without associated charges, making it distinct from other payment apps.

Key Participants in UPI

  • Payer Payment Service Provider (PSP)
  • Payee PSP
  • Remitter Bank
  • Beneficiary Bank
  • NPCI
  • Bank Account holders
  • Merchants

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

Objective and Formation

  • NPCI is the umbrella organization responsible for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
  • It is an initiative of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks' Association (IBA).
  • Formed under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.

Legal Structure

  • NPCI operates as a "Not for Profit" Company.
  • Established under the provisions of Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013).


  • Jointly initiated by the RBI and IBA to strengthen the payment and settlement infrastructure in India.

Not-for-Profit Status

  • Operates on a not-for-profit basis, emphasizing its commitment to providing essential infrastructure for the banking sector.

Regulatory Framework

  • Governed by the provisions outlined in the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, ensuring adherence to regulatory standards.


  • Evolved as a pivotal organization supporting the adoption of electronic payment systems and facilitating seamless financial transactions across the country.


  • The primary goal is to provide robust infrastructure to the entire banking system in India for both physical and electronic payment and settlement systems.


  • Serves as a central entity to drive innovations in retail payment systems through technological advancements.
  • Aims to enhance operational efficiency and expand the reach of payment systems.

Transformative Benefits for Banks, Merchants, and Customers

For Banks

  • Effortless Security: Dive into transactions with a single click and robust two-factor authentication.
  • Universal Convenience: Experience a one-stop solution for all transactions, seamlessly merging various banking services.
  • Smart Infrastructure: Harness the power of existing infrastructure for innovation and efficiency.
  • Fortress of Security: Enjoy a fortress of safety with a safer, more secure, and innovative approach.
  • Unique Identifiers Rule: Embrace the ease of payment with a single and unique identifier.
  • Merchant Harmony: Fuel seamless merchant transactions for an unparalleled banking experience.

For Merchants

  • ID Magic: Effortlessly collect funds with single identifiers, simplifying transactions.
  • Risk-Free Transactions: Bid farewell to storing virtual addresses, minimizing risks associated with traditional cards.
  • Cardless Outreach: Tap into a broader customer base, even those without credit/debit cards.
  • E-Commerce Marvel: Navigate the digital commerce world effortlessly, perfect for E-commerce and Mobile commerce transactions.
  • Two-Factor Wonder: Enable a single-click two-factor authentication, ensuring a smooth pull in transactions.
  • In-App Marvels: Dive into the future with in-app payments, making every transaction a breeze.

For Customers

  • Anytime, Anywhere: Enjoy round-the-clock availability, ensuring banking fits your schedule, not the other way around.
  • Banking Wonderland: Revel in the simplicity of managing multiple bank accounts through a single, user-friendly application.
  • Virtual Shield: Elevate your security with the power of virtual IDs, no more sharing sensitive credentials.
  • Swift Authentication: Simplify your life with single-click authentication, making transactions quicker than ever.
  • Mobile Solutions: Address complaints directly from your mobile app, putting customer satisfaction at your fingertips.

UPI’s Impact on the Economy

  • Commerce on the Fast Lane: UPI accelerates the wheels of e-commerce, offering a swift and secure platform for seamless transactions, propelling digital marketplaces forward.
  • Financial Wizardry: Bid farewell to the heavy cost of printing and circulating physical currency. UPI's digital dance reduces financial burdens, leaving room for economic expansion.
  • Traceable Tales: It simplifies tracking transactions, making tax collection a breeze while throwing a punch at the shadowy world of parallel economies.
  • Inclusive Prosperity: The Aadhaar-powered UPI, entwined with welfare schemes, holds hands with financial inclusion. It's not just about transactions; it's about managing economic well-being.
  • Black Money's Nemesis: UPI steps into the ring against black money and tax evasion, adding strategic value to India's financial landscape.
  • Versatility Unleashed: Beyond the routine, UPI flexes its muscles in e-commerce, daily business, money transfers, and more – a true multitasker in the digital realm.
  • Trusty Last Mile: UPI becomes the trusted sidekick for last-mile transactions, ensuring the finale of financial exchanges happens securely on an all-Indian tech stage.

Challenges of UPI

  • Digital Literacy Quest: The slow crawl of digital literacy becomes the dragon to slay for UPI's triumphant journey.
  • Security Chronicles: UPI faces the challenge of battling digital demons – phishing, data theft, and the relentless quest for unbreakable encryption.
  • Connectivity Conundrum: The real-world quest involves ensuring that the rural landscape is dotted with internet connectivity and smartphones – UPI's magical portals.
  • Language Enchantment: UPI's true test lies in mastering the art of enchantment in regional languages, making it the universal spell for success.

UPI Fraud

UPI Fraud encompasses deceptive activities within the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system, leading to unauthorized digital transactions. Fraudsters exploit vulnerabilities, tricking individuals into revealing UPI PINs and personal information, enabling access to bank accounts for fraudulent transactions.

Types of UPI Frauds

  • Phishing: Fraudsters employ bogus emails to extract sensitive information, compromising security and increasing susceptibility to UPI scams.
  • Fraud Sellers: Deceptive sellers in online marketplaces deceive buyers, leading to financial losses and eroding trust in e-commerce platforms.
  • Screen Monitoring Apps: Malicious apps compromise privacy, capturing sensitive information like UPI PINs and OTPs without user knowledge.
  • Malware: Malicious software, often unknowingly downloaded, extracts data from infected devices, facilitating fraudulent activities.
  • Money Mule: A sophisticated fraud involving an intermediary account to house looted funds, contributing to UPI hacking schemes.
  • SIM Cloning: Cloning SIM cards allows fraudsters to obtain OTPs, change UPI PINs, and gain unauthorized access to bank accounts.
  • Deceptive UPI Handles: Creation of misleading UPI handles to deceive users, often through social media or unsolicited messages.
  • Vishing: Fraudsters posing as bank representatives extract personal information through deceitful phone calls.
  • Collect Request Scams: Frauds involving collect payment requests, disguised as legitimate entities or assistance providers, aiming to deceive users.

Preventing UPI Fraud

  • Avoid Engaging with Fraudsters: Beware of unsolicited calls, especially those seeking sensitive information. Verify unknown numbers using apps like Truecaller.
  • Exercise Caution with Request/Acceptance: Be vigilant while using 'request money' features to prevent falling victim to scams during transactions.
  • Check Spam Warnings: UPI apps often provide spam warnings for unknown accounts. Report suspicious accounts to avoid potential fraud.
  • Beware of Malicious Apps: Stay cautious of fake apps posing as legitimate banks. Install anti-virus software to counter potential malware threats.
  • Enhance Security Practices: Protect your UPI apps with biometric recognition, safeguarding against unauthorized access and misuse.
  • Monitor Emails for Authenticity: Scan emails for malware to prevent falling prey to phishing attempts and ensure secure communication.
  • Regular Account Checks: Periodically review your account for unusual activity, reporting any discrepancies promptly to your bank.
  • Avoid Public Wi-Fi: Refrain from using unsecured Wi-Fi networks for UPI transactions, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Track Bank Messages: Scrutinize bank messages, differentiating between passwords, PINs, and OTPs. Maintain awareness of all transactions via UPI ID.

Way Forward

Global Presence and Cybersecurity

  • Global Collaboration: Expand UPI's global footprint through collaborations with more countries, fostering international digital transactions.
  • Security Fortification: Establish a dedicated cybersecurity task force for continuous assessment and enhancement of UPI's security infrastructure.

Digital Literacy and Technological Advancements

  • National Digital Literacy Mission: Launch a mission to accelerate digital literacy, targeting both urban and rural populations.
  • Innovative Technologies: Explore advanced biometric enhancements and AI-powered threat detection for robust authentication and risk mitigation.

Government-Industry Synergy and Stakeholder Engagement

  • PPP Models for Expansion: Facilitate Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to drive UPI's expansion, combining government initiatives with private sector innovations.
  • Regulatory Agility: Ensure regulatory frameworks are agile, adapting swiftly to technological changes.

Continuous Engagement: Establish regular feedback channels, conduct workshops, and organize roundtable discussions for ongoing stakeholder engagement

Book A Free Counseling Session