Paytm, PhonePe, other payment cos will have to shift to interoperable QR code by March 2022

The Reserve Bank of India said that payment operators which use more than one QR code must shift to one or more interoperable QR codes by 31 March 2022

Payment System Operators have been asked to shift to one or more interoperable QR codes by March 31, 2022 Payment System Operators have been asked to shift to one or more interoperable QR codes by March 31, 2022

In a bid to provide better user convenience and encourage digital transaction in India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday directed the payment operators such as Paytm, PhonePe, MobiKwik, Google Pay to shift to interoperable Quick Response (QR) codes by March 2022. QR Code is a type of a two-dimensional bar code, which is increasingly used to facilitate mobile payments at the point-of-sale. QR Codes can store a large amount of information.

"Payment System Operators (PSOs) that use proprietary QR codes shall shift to one or more interoperable QR codes; the process of migration shall be completed by March 31, 2022," the central bank said in a notification.

Considering the recommendations of a committee led by Professor Deepak Phatak (Professor Emeritus, IIT-Bombay), the RBI has decided to continue with the existing two interoperable QR codes - Unified Payments Interface (UPI) QR and Bharat QR. No new proprietary QR codes will be launched by any PSO for any payment transaction, it added.

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Currently, there are three types of QR codes operating in the country. This includes Bharat QR, UPI QR and proprietary QR codes.

The panel has also suggested continuing with a consultative process to standardise and improve interoperable QR codes, to enable beneficial features identified by the Phatak Committee.

The RBI has also urged payment system operators to take initiative to increase awareness about interoperable QR codes.

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"These measures are expected to reinforce the acceptance infrastructure, provide better user convenience due to interoperability and enhance system efficiency," RBI said.

The central bank had constituted a committee on December 23, 2019 under the Chairmanship of DB Phatak to review the current system of Quick Response (QR) Codes in India and suggest measures for moving towards interoperable QR Codes. The committee, in its report to the RBI, had suggested various recommendations which were placed on the RBI website for public comments and feedback.

Earlier in July, the committee had recommended providing incentives to popularise usage of QR code transactions among consumers. It had also made a case for phasing out proprietary closed loop QR codes in favour of open interoperable standards.

By Chitranjan Kumar