India has laid out plans for a unified electronic payments system and APIs to encourage citizens to make use of mobile payments as opposed to dealing in cash.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has been given responsibility to integrate the country’s retail payments systems and has published a ‘unified payment interface API and technology specification’ document.
The document “provides a payments architecture that is directly linked to achieving the goals of universal electronic payments, a less cash society and financial inclusion, using the latest technology trends.”
The organisation has said challenges for the project include the fact that currently the number of non-cash transactions per person in India is six per year and only 0.6 million of the country’s 10 million retailers accept card payments.
The government’s ‘Unique Identification Authority of India’ programme will facilitate the project as it gives every citizen an ‘aadhaar’ number which can be used as an identifier along with a mobile number and virtual payments address when transferring money from smartphones, eliminating the need for a bank account.
NPCI hopes the project will support the growth of e-commerce and financial inclusion as well as give banks and other institutions room to innovate.
The same body is also involved in another major initiative in the country, the introduction of payments banks. Mobile operators are among those bidding for licences to become payments banks. NPCI’s payments backbone will enable the new banks to transfer remittance payments.