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India: Voice Commands Revolutionising Digital Payments

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To enhance accessibility and user experience on digital platforms that support payment facilities, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has developed a voice command feature called ‘Hello! UPI’. It will support user onboarding, financial transactions, and complaint resolution through UPI.

UPI (Unified Payments Interface) was developed under the Digital India initiative and is run by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). It is a system that powers several bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features.

Through Hello! UPI, users will be able to navigate the UPI app in regional Indian languages through voice commands. They can also make payments on call by conversing in their preferred language, making the experience more accessible and user-friendly. It is also expected to benefit senior citizens and individuals who are digitally illiterate and visually impaired.

Image credit: National Payments Corporation of India

Hello! UPI will be accessible to users through various channels. Users can use it within the UPI app for voice-guided navigation, engage in voice-based interactions over phone calls, and even IoT-based devices that respond to voice commands.

The feature applies to a wide range of functionalities, including the initiation of UPI transactions, providing alerts to users about suspicious or potentially fraudulent transactions, offering smart prompts for enhanced user experiences, and enabling user-consented actions through voice prompts for various features.

Whenever a user seeks information or takes an action related to UPI using voice commands, they are required to initiate the interaction with the wake-up phrase ‘Hello (app name).’ For example, a user can say, ‘Hello! BHIM, make a ten-rupee payment to Aditya (saved contact),’ to perform a transaction.

The UPI PIN must be manually entered by the user on the UPI common library screen when initiating transactions from the UPI app and IoT display devices. In the case of on-call payments, the UPI PIN should be manually entered by the user on the keypad of the mobile phone from which the call is initiated.

Under NPCI’s guidelines for the feature, the device should request specific and relevant consent from the user to activate Hello! UPI. Likewise, there should be an option available to disable the voice-assisted service. Hello! UPI on telecom calls and IoT devices can be enabled through the Server-Side Common Library (SSCL) at NPCI. Existing UPI 123Pay is also enabled on SSCL.

Over the past two years, India has offered to link UPI with several countries, aiming to expand its reach and collaboration in the realm of digital payments. In February, RBI and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) linked Singapore’s PayNow with UPI.

As OpenGov Asia reported, customers of eligible financial institutions in both Singapore and India can avail of the facility to transfer funds in real-time between their bank accounts or e-wallets, enabling seamless cross-border transactions.

Users can transfer money using a mobile phone number, UPI identity, or Virtual Payment Address (VPA). The connection provides customers with a secure, user-friendly, and cost-efficient solution for conducting cross-border fund transfers. PayNow-UPI linkage is the first-ever real-time payment systems linkage to use a scalable cloud-based infrastructure that can handle future increases in the volume of remittance traffic. It is also the first linkage to have a non-bank financial institution as a participant.


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