Non-resident Indians (NRIs) living in the UK are set to join a select group who can directly pay bills on behalf of their family in India through the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS). Other countries, including Canada and Singapore, could follow suit.
"We have been receiving plenty of requests from NRIs to enable this facility. Our initial focus was on the Middle East countries given the sizable NRI population in the region. The UK is next and should soon go live," Noopur Chaturvedi, chief executive officer of NPCI Bharat BillPay Limited, said in New Delhi on September 9.
Enabled by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in September 2022, the facility, so far, is available to NRIs living in Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Speaking at the RBI Innovation Pavilion at the G20 Leaders' Summit, Chaturvedi said the facility, while niche, offered a degree of convenience to NRIs and their families.
"Until now, NRIs would transfer money to their families and they would make their bill payments – electricity, gas, water, loan repayments, etcetera. So this facility makes things easier on two counts — one, the number of transactions is halved from two to one. And two, often, the family members in India are elderly and face issues in making payments online or otherwise," Chaturvedi said.
To be sure, the facility is yet to take off in a big way, with Chaturvedi saying only 300-400 cross-border transactions were done in the last month.
Allowing cross-border bill payments is part of India's larger digital payment push that has gained momentum over the last 12 months during the course of its G20 presidency. Advancing financial inclusion globally through technology and digital public infrastructure has been a key pillar of India's G20 agenda.
On the sidelines of G20 finance track meetings and otherwise, India has held bilateral talks with several countries and pushed for collaboration in the digital payments space. This includes linking of India's Unified Payments Interface (UPI) with other nations' fast-payments services.
According to a source, the government and the RBI are "very ambitious" about UPI and its other digital payments products and want to "internationalise" it.
At the RBI Innovation Pavilion, officials from 20 delegations, including Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Russia, the UK, and the United Nations, performed UPI transactions as India continued to showcase its progress in the digital payments sphere.