UPI allows a customer with a bank account to make payments or transfer money using a smartphone

New Delhi: During a hackathon, Anshuman Purushottam, Manas Mallik and Raja Mohata, the core technology team of a start-up UltraCash, coded continuously for two weeks in an office tucked away in Hosur Sarjapur Road Layout, a suburb in south-east Bengaluru. The not-so-ordinary hackathon was organised by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in February for its most ambitious project, Unified Payment Interface (UPI), to bring digital banking to 1.2 billion people in the country.

UltraCash’s team were successful in writing code to integrate their mobile payment platform with UPI. It would enable consumers to easily pay retail merchants from their phone. But their innovation does not need an internet connection. UltraCash’s technology securely transfers payment data from one device to another, using sound waves with frequencies inaudible to humans.

“UPI is a big boost for startups like us to simplify the payment process,” said Vishal Lal, founder of UltraCash. He said the payment happens when a consumer brings her phone near the merchant’s phone.

The innovation has impressed NCPI. This month, UltraCash emerged among the top five winners of the UPI hackathon along with teams Vsoft Nerds, CPay, Fundu (Eko) and Enablers.

“We are bringing it (UPI) out in an interoperable way and as an open system,” said A.P Hota managing director and chief executive of NPCI. “That way we are ahead of the developed world.” About 29 banks have concurred to provide the service to their customers. Mr.Hota said fintech firms can come up with numerousideas “that they can sell to the banks.”

Launched this month, UPI allows a customer with a bank account to transfer money using a smartphone as easily as sending a text message. Mr.Hota said the platform is leveraging on the growing smartphone base in the country which is set to double to 400 million users in two years. In short, a world of opportunity opens up for fintech startups.

Start-ups find fuel in digital banking project