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Modi, Ranil launch ground-breaking digital payment connectivity


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe, witnessed the virtual launch of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) connectivity between India and Sri Lanka.

The President’s office said that in a ground-breaking move aimed at enhancing the convenience and security of digital payments for Indian tourists in Sri Lanka, a virtual launch event marked the introduction of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions through LankaQR, Monday (12).

The initiative, spearheaded by a collaboration between NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) and LankaPay (Pvt) Ltd, promises to revolutionize the tourist experience by providing a seamless payment solution.

The partnership between India and Sri Lanka, further solidified during the President’s visit to India in July 2023, and paved the way for innovative bilateral initiatives. Recognizing India’s remarkable strides in digitalization and its potential to drive economic development, Sri Lanka has committed to leveraging India’s Digital Public Infrastructure to enhance service delivery for its citizens.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe during his virtual address, congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the recent opening of the Ram Mandir, highlighting the deep economic and cultural connections between India and Sri Lanka. He discussed the historical context of payments between the two countries, noting the presence of ancient South Indian coins found in Sri Lanka. President Wickremesinghe emphasized the technological upgrade represented by the Lanka QR and NIPL, envisioning their widespread adoption, particularly among Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka.

He highlighted the significance of transactions between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu, as well as Sri Lanka and Mumbai, especially for merchants, contributing to further connectivity between the two nations. President Wickremesinghe expressed satisfaction with the progress of bilateral cooperation, as outlined in the vision statement issued during his visit to Delhi and discussed with India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar in Perth.

He expressed contentment at participating in the same transactions with Mauritius, emphasizing the historical connections between the two island states and Sri Lanka’s desire for closer relations with Mauritius. President Wickremesinghe thanked Prime Minister Modi for initiating the venture and looked forward to continued cooperation between the two countries.

With digital payments witnessing a surge in adoption within Sri Lanka, the introduction of UPI transactions via LankaQR comes at a pivotal moment. LankaQR, already a preferred method for domestic transactions, offers a fast, secure, and convenient way for users to make payments with a simple scan of a QR code. With approximately 350,000 merchants already equipped to accept QR-based transactions, Sri Lanka is well-prepared to extend this facility to Indian tourists.

The collaboration between NIPL and LankaPay ensures that Indian tourists can seamlessly utilize UPI-enabled mobile applications to make payments at participating merchants across Sri Lanka. This development not only enhances the tourist experience but also strengthens the economic ties between the two nations.

As part of the initiative, 20 local banks and financial institutions in Sri Lanka have pledged their support, with plans underway to expand coverage to hot-spot tourism areas. State Bank of India’s involvement from the Indian side further underscores the significance of this partnership.

Looking ahead, the initiative aims to rapidly expand its reach, with an estimated 10,000 merchants expected to accommodate UPI payments for Indian nationals within weeks of the launch. By the end of March 2024, this number is projected to reach 65,000, encompassing a vast network of merchants catering to the needs of Indian tourists.

Addressing the virtual launch the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and President Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka for their presence at the virtual launch of the RuPay card and UPI projects. He highlighted the significance of the RuPay card, which will be utilized domestically in Mauritius, emphasizing the deep-rooted cultural and economic ties between India and Mauritius.

The speech underscored the commitment made during the G20 meeting to enhance digital services and infrastructure, aligning with Mauritius’ own digital transformation efforts.

Meanwhile, addressing the virtual launch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the achievement of the goal of integrating Sri Lanka and Mauritius with the UPI system, foreseeing mutual benefits and accelerated digital transformation in local economies. He highlighted the significance of the Rupee card’s inauguration in Africa, emphasizing its role in enhancing convenience for Mauritian visitors to India and reducing the need for hard currency.

The speech emphasized the importance of Global South Cooperation, reflecting on India’s unwavering support for its neighbours and its ‘neighbourhood first’ policy, during crises. Prime Minister Modi expressed gratitude to President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth for their roles in the launch and acknowledged the contributions of central banks and agencies in ensuring the initiative’s success.

The virtual launch event not only symbolizes a milestone in cross-border collaboration but also sets a precedent for future partnerships in the region. With the Prime Minister of Mauritius set to join the event virtually, showcasing similar advancements in digital payments, the initiative holds promise for enhancing the tourism landscape across multiple nations.

Overall, the virtual launch of UPI transactions via LankaQR represents a significant step towards fostering inclusive and prosperous partnerships, benefitting tourists, businesses, banking institutions, and the general public alike.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ali Sabry PC, Minister of State for Technology Kanaka Herath, President’s Senior Adviser on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Mass Media Anusha Palpita, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe and others were present on this occasion. (Colombo Gazette)

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