New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) India's Unified Payment Interface (UPI) services were rolled out in Sri Lanka and Mauritius on Monday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing it as a "special day" for the three nations as it marked linking historic ties with modern digital technology.
India's RuPay card services were also launched in Mauritius at a virtual ceremony attended by Prime Minister Modi, his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
"India's UPI or United Payments Interface comes in a new role today -- Uniting Partners with India," Modi emphasised.
Today is a special day for the three friendly countries of the Indian Ocean Region as "we are linking our historic ties with modern digital technology", he said.
"I believe that Sri Lanka and Mauritius will benefit from the UPI system," Modi said.
The prime minister said digital public infrastructure has brought about a revolutionary change in India. He also highlighted India's focus on its "neighbourhood first policy".
"Be it natural disaster, health related, economic or supporting on the international stage, India has been the first responder, and will continue to be so," he said.
The launch of the Indian services in Sri Lanka and Mauritius came amid New Delhi's increasing bilateral economic ties with the two countries. The launch enables availability of UPI settlement services for Indian nationals travelling to Sri Lanka and Mauritius as well as for Mauritian nationals travelling to India.
Developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), UPI is an instant real-time payment system to facilitate inter-bank transactions through mobile phones. RuPay is a global card payment network from India, with wide acceptance at shops, ATMs and online.
In his address, Modi said the launch of the services is proof of New Delhi's commitment towards the development of the people, underlining that fintech connectivity will further strengthen cross-border transactions and connections.
Digital public infrastructure has brought about a revolutionary change in India, where the smallest of vendors in the remotest of villages are transacting via UPI and making digital payments, he said.
Speaking about the convenience and speed of UPI transactions, Modi informed that more than 100 billion transactions took place via UPI last year worth Rs 2 lakh crores or 8 trillion Sri Lankan rupees or 1 trillion Mauritius rupees.
The prime minister also mentioned making last-mile delivery through the trinity of bank accounts, Aadhaar and mobile phones where Rs 34 lakh crore or 400 billion US dollars has been transferred into the bank accounts of beneficiaries.
"Use of technology is promoting transparency, reducing corruption and increasing inclusivity in society," he said.
Modi stressed that "India's policy is 'Neighborhood First'. Our maritime vision is SAGAR, that is security and growth for all in the region". "India does not see its development separately from its neighbours," he said.
The prime minister expressed confidence that connection with UPI will benefit Sri Lanka and Mauritius, and digital transformation will get a boost.
"I am confident that Indian tourists will give priority to destinations with UPI. People of Indian origin living in Sri Lanka and Mauritius, and students studying there will also get special benefits from it," he added.
Modi expressed happiness that RuPay card has been rolled out in Mauritius.
The UPI and RuPay card system will enable real-time, cost-effective and convenient payments in "our own currency", he said.
The prime minister underlined that the launch symbolises the success of Global South cooperation.
"Our relations are not just about transactions, it is a historical relation," Modi said, highlighting the strength of people-to-people relations between the three nations.
Drawing attention to India supporting its neighbouring friends in the last 10 years, he said that India stands up for its friends in every hour of crisis, be it natural disasters, health-related issues, economic or support on the international stage. "India has been the first responder and will continue to be so," he said.
Modi also highlighted the special attention towards the concerns of the Global South even during India's G20 presidency.
Prime Minister Jugnauth said that co-branded Rupay cards will be designated as domestic cards in Mauritius.
Wickremesinghe congratulated Modi for the consecration ceremony at the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
The president hoped to maintain the momentum of connectivity and deepening of the relationship between the two countries.