Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

Jun 14, 2021

What Is UPI?

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is India's very own real-time payment system, allowing the processing of instant inter-bank transfers between domestic Indian bank accounts. Introduced in 2016, UBI is owned and maintained by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI.)

As of October 2019, UPI had recorded the processing of one billion transactions to date for around 100 million users. As of June 2021, the system was used by 224 Indian banks of all sizes, either via their own UPI apps or through partnerships with third-party UPI apps.

Understanding UPI

UPI is a mobile-based inter-bank payment system. This means that UPI allows users to send and receive money between bank accounts using a mobile application geared toward routing funds and merchant payments in real-time through a centralised payments infrastructure (hence Unified Payments Interface.)

The adoption of UPI in 2016 had several major impacts on the Indian payments sector and benefited merchants, banks, and consumers in many ways. Several of these benefits include:

  • Sensitivity: Banking details and sensitive financial information no longer need to be inserted to instruct a transaction;
  • Accessibility: Over-the-counter barcode payments, online payments, and mobile payments are facilitated;
  • Recurring Costs: Pre-authorized recurring payments (e.g. for utility bills, cellular contracts, etc.) are facilitated;
  • In-App PIN: Individual UPI PINs can be used to send ("Push") and receive ("Pull") money;
  • Flexibility: Either a bank account number, IFSC code, mobile phone number, or Aadhaar number can also be used to send UPI payments;
  • Availability: UPI payments are available and accessible all year round.

Many Indian banks have developed their own mobile apps for UPI payments, while others use third-party UPI mobile applications. Some of the more popular UPI include the following:

Amazon Pay

Axis Bank


Federal Bank


Axis Bank

Google Pay

Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, SBI



Mi Pay


WhatsApp Pay

Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, SBI


Yes Bank

Jio Pay

Jio Payments Bank

Source: NPCI
Date: 15/06/2021

UPI Payment Charges

As of June 2021, no charges are associated with using UPI, and the system remains free to use in all Indian banks and UPI mobile apps.

UPI for International Money Transfers

UPI is only available to Indian bank account holders, and therefore it's not possible to transfer money via UPI into a foreign bank account. However, the payment system is available for international money transfers from India via several third-party operators, most notably Wise, which introduced the service in June 2021.

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Frequently Asked Questions About UPI

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