India’s UPI launched in Sri Lanka, Mauritius; PM Modi says ‘special day’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that fintech connectivity will strengthen both cross-border transactions and linkages
India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) services were rolled out in Sri Lanka and Mauritius on Monday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that fintech connectivity will strengthen both cross-border transactions and linkages.
A virtual ceremony joined by Modi, his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe also saw the launch of India’s RuPay card services in Mauritius.
Bhutan was the first country to adopt UPI services in 2021, and the digital public infrastructure has been launched, either fully or partially, in Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Nepal and France.
Digital public infrastructure has brought about a “revolutionary change” in India and more than 100 billion transactions, worth more than ₹2 lakh crore, or eight trillion Sri Lankan rupees and one trillion Mauritius rupees, were made through the service last year, Modi said, speaking in Hindi.
The use of technology has increased transparency and inclusivity and ended corruption, Modi said. He hoped the new fintech services will help Mauritius and Sri Lanka, and said UPI is performing a new responsibility of “uniting partners with India”.
“Today is a special day for three friendly countries of the Indian Ocean region. Today we are connecting our historical relations in a modern digital way,” Modi said. “I am confident that Sri Lanka and Mauritius will also benefit by joining the UPI system.”
Referring to India’s maritime vision of “SAGAR” or Security and Growth for All in the Region, Modi said: “India does not view its development in isolation from its neighbouring friends.”
Indian tourists will give priority to destinations with UPI services, and people of Indian origin and students living in Sri Lanka and Mauritius will get special benefits from it, he said.
“I am glad that after Nepal, Bhutan [and] Singapore in Asia and UAE in the Gulf, RuPay card is now being launched in Africa from Mauritius. This will also facilitate the people coming to India from Mauritius,” he said.
The UPI and RuPay systems will enable real-time, cost-effective and convenient payments, and the three countries can move towards cross-border remittances or person-to-person payment facility in the times to come, Modi said.
Modi also highlighted India’s focus on its “Neighbourhood First” policy, and said: “In the last 10 years, we have shown how in every hour of crisis, India consistently stands with its neighbouring friends. Be it natural disaster, health-related, economic or supporting on the international stage, India has been the first responder, and will continue to be so.”
India has also set up a “Social Impact Fund” to extend the benefits of its digital public infrastructure to countries of the Global South, he added.
Jugnauth said the co-branded RuPay card will be designated as a domestic card in Mauritius, while Wickremesinghe said he hoped to maintain the momentum of connectivity and deepening of relations between India and Sri Lanka.
The launch enables availability of UPI settlement services for Indian nationals travelling to Sri Lanka and Mauritius, as well as for Mauritian nationals travelling to India.
UPI, developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), is an instant real-time payment system to facilitate inter-bank transactions through mobile phones. RuPay is India’s global card payment network, with wide acceptance at shops, ATMs and online.
During Wickremesinghe’s visit to India in July 2023, both sides finalised an economic partnership vision document that envisaged fintech, air and maritime connectivity as a key enabler for growth. India is currently Sri Lanka’s biggest trade partner, as well as the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) and tourist arrivals.