India adds prepaid digital voucher eRupi to its payment arsenal

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India on Monday added a unique digital voucher, eRupi, to its bouquet of already existing digital payment options. Billed as a person and purpose-specific solution, the new digital payment solution is expected to help deliver benefits to millions of recipients across the country.

Delivered as a SMS or a QR code, the eRupi will remove any friction in moving payments to the beneficiaries who are currently excluded from the existing systems due to the lack of access to the internet or even a bank account. ERupi works on the basis of a code sent to the (feature) phone.

Launched by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the new digital voucher will help everyone in targeted, transparent and leakage free delivery of goods and services. The eRupi will play a significant role in the direct benefit transfer (DBT) schemes.

At present, around 900 million Indians gain through more than 300 such DBT schemes in areas such as cooking gas, food rations, medical treatment, scholarships, pensions or wages.

The eRupi will also enable targeted corporate or philanthropic activities too as it removes the concerns around end usage which can be tracked easily. The voucher system will initially be used for Covid vaccination drives, but is expected to soon be used for other services such as education.

ERupi does not require any physical interface between the people involved in the transaction. For redemption, these e-vouchers do not need any personal details beyond the phone numbers of the parties involved in the transaction.

This prepaid digital voucher was developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) with the support of the Department of Financial Services and the National Health Authority.

Leading public and private sector banks like SBI, ICICI, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, PNB, Bank of Baroda will be the issuing entities for these vouchers.

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