Voice of the Industry

How RuPay ensures payment innovation and cross-border presence

Thursday 28 January 2021 07:36 CET | Editor: Anda Kania | Voice of the industry

Praveena Rai, the COO of NPCI, depicts the successful journey from a local network to now issuing millions of global cards, and the partnership with Discover Global Network and that increased RuPay’s worldwide acceptance
Cards are a popular payment method for online shopping, representing 29% of transactions, or USD 10.6 billion in sales in India. Although cash-based payments used to dominate the market, the pandemic impacted the country’s shopping habits, just like it did all over the world, and now, card payments are expected to rise dramatically in 2021. 

Considering the commerce potential of emerging markets, India continues to be an attractive spot for international merchants, perhaps now more than ever, considering the governmental efforts to modernise and standardise cross-border commerce operations. These events also mean great opportunities for national programs like RuPay, a product of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). 

Any domestic network that seeks to make a difference in this digital payments world should consider an international partner. Praveena Rai, the COO of NPCI, depicts the successful journey from a local network to now issuing millions of global cards, the way they have contributed to the ever-increasing cashless society, and the partnership with Discover® Global Network and Diners Club International® that increased RuPay’s worldwide acceptance. 

Discover Global Network is a comprehensive, payments network accepted at millions of merchant and cash-access locations. Diners Club International introduced the first multipurpose charge card to the world in 1950. Now, it’s accepted by millions of merchants in 200 countries and territories. 

Building up the contactless payments mainstream in India 

RuPay is currently accounting for nearly 35% of cards market share in India. It is issued by more than 1,000 banks, holding around one-third of the market, and with a base of approximately 600 million cards across all the categories, including prepaid, debit, credit, and commercial cards. RuPay has brought an added value by opening up its services for all consumers with different types of needs, and by making it possible for every Indian citizen to access and afford a payment card, due to the wide coverage across the country, over both rural and urban areas. The company applies the same inclusive approach to merchants. From small to large ones, they all get the necessary support in their expansion towards digital enablement. 

The first objective was advancing a strong card network program, and after establishing the full issuance and acceptance, RuPay has brought out to the market the best of what NPCI could offer: technological progress and a platform for partners. By bringing together banks on one side and fintech players on the other side, NPCI merged technologies, scaled up its services, and added more features, such as switching, e-KYC (Know Your Customer), onboarding services, and offline contactless payments via the National Common Mobility Card program, which permits the use of RuPay cards for various mobility purposes.

NPCI is also launching a new generation of RuPay with ‘RuPay 2.0’. The all new RuPay 2.0 would comprise of five unique features – Contactless Offline, Contactless Transit, Wearables, AutoPay, SoftPoS in an attempt to provide RuPay cardholders a seamless purchase experience. With the advent of these features, consumers can witness a greater sense of convenience and smart technology while making contactless transactions. With the amalgamation of cutting edge NFC technology and innovative card payment solutions, the acceptance infrastructure of RuPay is set to revolutionise the payment ecosystem. Apart from being active in creating digital awareness and security campaigns, a major focus of NPCI lies in affordability and access for its consumers, from mass segment to super premium segments, thus marking its contribution to the financial inclusion in India. For example, RuPay has nearly 160 million cards in Jan Dhan accounts (part of PMJDY initiative). The Classic and Platinum variants of RuPay account for over 421 million cards at present. 

RuPay’s journey with Discover® Global Network 

NPCI’s mission is to serve a billion people, and this is not possible without serving people with international needs.  Once RuPay identified the need for an international partner to enable their customers to make payments outside the domestic shores, they teamed up with Discover Global Network, a company with a strong array of bilateral relationships in many regions, providing support in more than 200 countries and territories, while also being committed to the Indian market. At present, international merchants are interested in serving the 600 million RuPay users from India. And while there could be a smaller percentage of them who would go overseas, cross-border ecommerce is a fast-growing segment, increasing by at least 20%-plus year-on-year. Therefore, despite the declining number of travelers today, the cross-border payments opportunity remains. RuPay has currently reached an impressive milestone – according to the latest estimate, the national program will soon cross the threshold of having issued 100 million global cards. 

RuPay’s relationship with Discover Global Network involves a technology and knowledge based collaboration. RuPay’s product suite ranging from tokenization to loyalty programmes comprise market leading technical solutions that tie up with Discover services, and the partners also organise workshops, knowledge-sharing sessions to understand how both companies can take the best advantage of what each other brings to the table.By activating partnerships with global financial services, RuPay augments its contribution to the accelerated digital transformation that, more recently, has been spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ecommerce is growing leaps and bounds in India from both the safety and convenience standpoints. So, the main focus for RuPay now is making ecommerce transactions simple, while also providing tokenized services without any security aspects being challenged, at both the domestic and international level.

This editorial was first published in our Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report 2020–2021, which assesses the change of pace that occurred in 2020 and provides a comprehensive overview of the major trends driving growth in this space, being the ultimate source of information for players interested in selling across borders. 

About Praveena Rai

Ms. Praveena Rai is Chief Operating Officer of NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India). She is responsible for running the business, the products, the operational and technical delivery. Passionate about payments and technology as drivers to economic value, she helps NPCI attain its strategic objectives of offering simple, secure, and seamless digital payments experience to consumers and users across the ecosystem. 



About NPCI

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) was incorporated in 2008 as an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India. NPCI has changed the way payments are made in India through a bouquet of retail payment products such as RuPay card, IMPS, UPI, BHIM, BHIM Aadhaar, NETC FASTag, and Bharat BillPay. 

About Discover Global Network

Discover Global Network, the global payments brand of Discover Financial Services, processes millions of cardholder transactions each day. With industry expertise, innovative technology and a closed-loop infrastructure, Discover Global Network provides effective, customised solutions that evolve as needs change. Discover Global Network has alliances with more than 18 payment networks around the world and is led by three Discover businesses: Discover Network, with millions of retail and cash access locations; PULSE®, one of the leading ATM/debit networks in the US; and Diners Club International®, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 200 countries around the world.

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Keywords: Discover Global Network, RuPay, NPCI, card network, India, cashless, cross-border payments, emerging markets, ecommerce
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: India
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Payments & Commerce

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