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India's UPI and Singapore's PayNow Integration: A Game-Changer for Cross-Border Transactions

India's Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a real-time retail payment system, and Singapore's PayNow system have been integrated to allow for faster remittances between the two countries at a competitive rate. Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das and the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Managing Director Ravi Menon launched the linkage, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The project to link the fast payment systems was initiated in September 2021 to facilitate faster, more efficient, and transparent cross-border transactions relating to trade, travel, and remittances between the two countries.

UPI is India's mobile-based fast payment system, which facilitates customers to make round-the-clock payments instantly, using a Virtual Payment Address (VPA) created by the customer. It supports both Person-to-Person (P2P) and Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payments and enables a user to send or receive money. PayNow is a fast payment system in Singapore that allows users to send and receive instant funds from one bank or e-wallet account to another in Singapore by using just their mobile number, Singapore National Registration Identity Card (NRIC)/Foreign Identification Number (FIN), or VPA.

The UPI-PayNow linkage is a significant milestone in the development of infrastructure for cross-border payments between India and Singapore and closely aligns with the G20's financial inclusion priorities of driving faster, cheaper, and more transparent cross-border payments. India is chairing the G20 on the basis of the rotational membership structure this year. Singapore, although not a G20 member, has been invited to participate in the G20 Summits and its related processes from 2010 to 2011 and from 2013 to 2023.

The linkage will enable users of each of the two fast payment systems to make instant, low-cost fund transfers on a reciprocal basis without the need to get on board the other payment system. It will also benefit the Indian diaspora in Singapore, especially migrant workers and students, through the instantaneous and low-cost transfer of money from Singapore to India and vice versa. According to the RBI Remittance Survey 2021, Singapore accounted for 5.7% of the total inward remittances to India in 2020-21.

Cross-border retail payments are generally less transparent and more expensive than domestic transactions, making this integration a significant step towards reducing the cost and time involved in cross-border payments between India and Singapore. The UPI-PayNow linkage will not only reduce costs but also improve transparency and enhance the overall efficiency of cross-border payments.

The integration is a result of the collaboration between the Reserve Bank of India and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which aims to boost trade, travel, and remittances between the two countries. This will have a positive impact on the economies of both India and Singapore, as it will increase the ease of doing business between the two countries and foster economic growth.

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