Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a new mode of cashless and contactless digital payment called e-RUPI. So what is it? Is it a digital gift card or something like Sodexo? Various questions have swirled around the United Payments Interface (UPI)-based e-RUPI among customers after it was launched with much fanfare on 2 August 2021.
What is e-RUPI and how it works?
It is basically a digital voucher which a beneficiary gets on his phone in the form of an SMS or QR code. It is a pre-paid voucher, which he/she can go and redeem at any centre that accepts it. For example, if the Government wants to cover a particular treatment of an employee in a specified hospital, it can issue an e-RUPI voucher for the determined amount through a partner bank. The employee will receive an SMS or a QR Code on his feature phone/smartphone. He/she can go to the specified hospital, avail of the services and pay through the e-RUPI voucher received on his phone.
Thus e-RUPI is a one time contactless, cashless voucher-based mode of payment that helps users redeem the voucher without a card, digital payments app, or internet banking access.
Is e-RUPI RBI’s digital currency?
This should not be confused with Digital Currency which the Reserve Bank of India is contemplating. Instead, e-RUPI is a person-specific, even purpose-specific digital voucher.
- This does not require the beneficiary to have a bank account, a major distinguishing feature as compared to other digital payment forms.
- It ensures an easy, contactless two-step redemption process that does not require sharing of personal details either.
- e-RUPI is operable on basic phones also, and hence it can be used by persons who do not own smart-phones or in places that lack internet connection.
Benefits for sponsors
e-RUPI is expected to play a major role in strengthening Direct-Benefit Transfer and making it more transparent. Since there is no need for the physical issuance of vouchers, it will also lead to some cost savings as well.
Being a prepaid voucher, e-RUPI would assure real-time payments to the service provider.
Who has developed the new digital payment instrument
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which oversees the digital payments ecosystem in India, has launched e-RUPI, a voucher-based payments system to promote cashless transactions. It has been developed in collaboration with the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and National Health Authority.
Which Banks issue e-RUPI?
NPCI has partnered with 11 banks for this transactions. They are Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Indian Bank, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India and Union Bank of India. The acquiring Apps are Bharat Pe, BHIM Baroda Merchant Pay, Pine Labs, PNB Merchant Pay and YoNo SBI Merchant Pay. More banks and acquiring Apps are expected to join the e-RUPI initiative soon.
Where can e-RUPI be used now ?
To begin with, NPCI has tied up with more than 1,600 hospitals where this digitalvoucher can be redeemed. Experts say, in the days to come the user base of e-RUPI is expected to widen, with even the private sector using it to deliver employee benefits and MSMEs adopting it for Business To Business (B2B) transactions.