The open nature of UPI payments needs to be widely known

UPI is a great, easy-to-use platform for P2P and person-to-business digital payments in India. Its like Venmo, but open and interoperable.

Given this, it’s a travesty that Google Pay, Whatsapp and the rest are creating the impression of closed systems above UPI.

At a petrol pump in Hyderabad late at night, the person in the car ahead of me wanted to pay via Paytm/UPI but the pump only accepted cards. The guy asked me if he could have my card swiped after he transferred money via Google Pay.

He asked for my mobile number and couldn’t find it on Google Pay (I’ve never used that particular app). I asked him to send it to my UPI handle, but he had no idea what it was or how to enter it. I’m not sure if Google Pay also actively obscures payment to UPI handles.

I realized for him BHIM, BharatPe, Amazon P2P, Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, Whatsapp Payments are all unconnected systems, not unlike digital prepaid wallets.

Several local businesses now accept UPI payments (maybe even prefer them?), but have different QR code stickers per app. This should be unnecessary. This BharatPe sticker does it correctly:

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