MUMBAI: The National Payments Corporation of India has asked payment apps to stop charging a platform fee for payments enabled on the Bharat Bill Payment Platform. This is in light of the RBI coming out with a discussion paper on payment charges in the country. The government also seems inclined to treat the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) as a public good that customers do not have to pay for.
Last year, PhonePe, which has a large share of UPI transactions in India, started charging for some mobile recharges and other payments. The company had described the move as an experiment to test consumers’ willingness to pay a small fee for transactions. In July, Paytm too had started charging Rs 1 for bill payments on its platform.
However, in the second week of August, the NPCI is understood to have written to payment apps and asked them to stop charging even this small fee. Paytm officials said that they have immediately discontinued the charge from this month. PhonePe has said that it has stopped charging for transactions on the Bharat Bill Pay platform however it said that the charges which are appearing are for services where it has built direct connectivity with the biller without going through BBPS. These include some credit card bill payments and some mobile recharges.
BBPS enables anywhere-anytime bill payment for utilities and other billers like insurance companies, credit cards, subscription fees, fastag and municipal charges. Before BBPS there were multiple aggregators who brought their merchants on one platform and payment companies would link to these aggregators.
“We have been running experiments on charging platform fees across different categories for some time now. The results look promising, and reflect the fact that a very large majority of Indian consumers (98%) are willing to pay a nominal fee for the convenience offered by PhonePe. For now, we have temporarily paused our platform fees experiments on all eligible BBPS categories. We will share our experimental findings with NPCI/BBPS, and then seek their support in standardizing nominal platform fees,” said PhonePe in an email response. The NPCI did not immediately respond to queries.