NRIs in UAE will soon be able to use UPI payments with local mobile number
Network said in a statement on Wednesday that this collaboration facilitates seamless and secure cross-border merchant transactions for Indian tourists travelling to the UAE. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: UAE’s Network International has inked a partnership deal with India’s NPCI International Payments Ltd. (NIPL) to enable QR code-based Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments across its point-of-sale (POS) terminals in the UAE.

Network International, or Network, is a leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa (MEA). NIPL is the international arm of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

Network said in a statement on Wednesday that this collaboration facilitates seamless and secure cross-border merchant transactions for Indian tourists travelling to the UAE. Network has over 200,000 POS terminals across 60,000+ merchants in sectors including retail, hospitality, transport, and supermarkets.

“UPI acceptance will be rolled out progressively, covering a wide range of establishments from retail stores and dining outlets, as well as tourist and leisure attractions including Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates,” the statement explained.

Cashless transactions 

UPI is India’s largest instant payment system, with over 350 million active users. It processed 14.04 billion transactions in May 2024 alone. This will allow Indian tourists and non-resident Indians (NRIs) with Indian bank accounts to use UPI for payments across the Network’s POS terminals in the UAE. Without the UPI system, Indian visitors in the UAE pay for goods and services using cash or international credit cards. 

Nandan Mer, Group CEO of Network International, hopes introducing the service will increase cashless transactions in the UAE. Mer said, “We are delighted to partner with NPCI International Payments Limited to strengthen the payments ecosystem for Indians visiting or working in the UAE.”

He added, “By enabling customers to pay using their preferred method, we are one step closer to realising our vision of empowering businesses and merchants with the latest payment technologies and strengthening the vision of a digital UAE.” 

The announcement on Wednesday was made at an event held in Dubai in the presence of Satish Kumar Sivan, Consul General of India, to the UAE, along with senior representatives from Network International and NPCI International.

Familiar experience for Indian travellers

The number of Indian tourists travelling to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is projected to reach 9.8 million in 2024, with the UAE anticipating 5.29 million arrivals from India.

Jamal Al Nassai, Group Managing Director for Merchant Services – Middle East and North Africa at Network International, said, “The launch of this partnership is a milestone for our extensive merchant network, which stands to benefit immensely from the new payment method. As the leading acquirer in the region, Network will leverage its 30-year legacy of technological innovation to enable acceptance of UPI-based payment apps to its merchants to drive global interoperability.”

Meanwhile, Ritesh Shukla, CEO of NPCI International, stated, “ By growing UPI payment acceptance across merchants in the UAE, we are not only providing Indian travellers with a seamless and familiar payment experience but also promoting the use of innovative digital payment solutions internationally.”

Partnerships with banks 

Earlier in March, fintech firm PhonePe said its users travelling to the UAE can make payments using UPI at the country's oldest privately owned bank Mashreq's NEOPAY Terminals. The collaboration was facilitated through Mashreq's partnership with NIPL.

The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) was officially launched in the UAE during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Abu Dhabi. Indian users can make hassle free payments using UPI in the UAE, which marked the interlinking of India’s UPI with the UAE’s instant payments platform, AANI, enabling seamless cross-border transactions between the two countries.

The agreement to link UPI with AANI was signed alongside several other deals, including the interlinking of domestic debit/credit cards – RuPay from India and JAYWAN from the UAE. This initiative not only facilitates digital transactions but also enhances financial connectivity and cooperation between India and the UAE.