France likely to have UPI system with India, first in Europe after Singapore

Jul 13, 2023 07:05 AM IST

The India-France CEO forum has been reconstituted after five years and are meeting on July 14 in Paris.

The primary focus during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France may be on defence, but the two countries are poised to take giant steps in co-operation in areas such as the digital economy, manufacturing and clean energy including developments concerning the 9900 MW Jaitapur nuclear plant in Maharashtra.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron are having a private dinner on Thursday on eve of Bastille Day Parade.(@EmmanuelMacron)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron are having a private dinner on Thursday on eve of Bastille Day Parade.(@EmmanuelMacron)

After five years, the India-France CEOs Forum has also been revived and is meeting in Quai d’Orsay, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office, on July 14 with 10-12 corporate leaders from either side. While the Indian side will be co-chaired by Hari Bhartia, co-chairman of the Jubilant Bhartia Group, the French side will be headed by Paul Hermelin, Chairman of Information Technology firm Capgemini SE. Hermilin has also been appointed by the French Government as the point person for business and trade with India. Capgemini employs around 200,000 people in India and is set to open a 6G laboratory in Pune. Bilateral trade between India and France has doubled from 2014 to 14 billion Euros with the balance in favour of India.

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Read more: PM Modi’s France visit to focus on defence, space sectors

However, the big ticket item that is currently work in progress between the two countries is the possible launch of the digital payment technology Unified Payments Interface or UPI in France by Modi during his two day visit. In 2023, UPI and Singapore’s PayNow signed an agreement, allowing users in either country to make cross-border transactions. If the Macron government agrees to do the same with UPI -- NPCI, the company behind UPI, and France’s Lyra have been working on this for a year -- then France will become the first European country to have UPI. It is understood that if all agreements are closed in time, the linkage will be launched by PM Modi from an iconic location in Paris.

The other major focus of PM Modi’s visit will be on clean energy; it was from Paris that he had launched the International Solar alliance in 2015, which today has 100 member countries. The focus this time will be on green hydrogen, renewables, batteries and small modular reactors. In this context, the two sides have also made significant progress in the 1650x6 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project with forward momentum to technical discussions on the 8000-page techno-commercial offer made by France in 2019. It is understood that this exercise will come to fruition soon and the plant will become a reality as part of a bilateral clean energy initiative.

The French are also open to technology transfer and are keen to get French companies to diversify their manufacturing and sourcing footprint and are looking at India as an alternative global supply chain hub to China.

France is also ready to build collaboration with India for EXAScale computing . France has been India’s partner in supercomputing in the past and shared technology .

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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