On Wednesday BharatQR, a payments service launched by the government earlier this year, found two major new backers in giant Visa and BillDesk, a move that further pushes its reach and accessibility in the country.
Launched earlier this year, BharatQR is among the two payment services the government has devised and is advertising (the other is UPI). BharatQR code works with bank apps, and lets people make the payments directly from their accounts by scanning a QR code.
As part of the partnership announced on Wednesday, the number of places that offer BharatQR-supported QR code will increase. Visa and BillDesk said they had enabled fifty large service providers including Tata AIG, ACT Broadband, Reliance Energy, Gujarat Gas, MTNL, Aircel, Tata Power, Pune Municipal Corporation, and Calcutta Electricity Supply to accept BharatQR. On paper, over 300 million additional users can now avail payments via BharatQR.
"This is a strong testimony to our open collaboration with the innovation ecosystem to drive, frictionless payments that empower millions of lives," T.R. Ramachandran, Group Country Manager, India and South Asia, Visa said, adding that QR code is an example of technology and payments finding a simple solution. Visa itself has its own QR code system as well, and has long been a proponent of the technology.
Over 400,000 merchants across India support BharatQR payments, in general. Paytm, India's largest wallet app, also offers quick access to payments via QR codes. "BharatQR is the answer to Paytm. Hopefully banks will now be able to expand infrastructure at the rate with which Paytm did during demonetisation," AP Hota, CEO of NPCI had said during the launch of BharatQR.
Since invalidating a significant proportion of the cash in circulation last year, the Indian government has been devising new payments solutions that cut people's reliance on cash, and also make all their transactions more accountable.