In what could potentially give a further boost to digital payments, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is set to launch UPI Lite, which would enable small value transactions in an offline mode.

“At present, it will be near offline but will require a smartphone. It is set to go live with pilots in the next one week or 10 days,” said an official source, noting that nearly half the UPI transactions are low ticket payments. “NPCI has designed the UPI Lite – on-device wallet functionality for UPI user,” it said in a circular to all member banks.

In the first phase, UPI Lite will process transactions in near offline mode that is debit offline and credit online, and at a later point, UPI Lite will process the transactions in complete offline mode that is debit and credit both offline, it further said.

The upper limit of an UPI Lite payment transaction will be ₹200 while the total limit of UPI Lite balance for an on-device wallet will be ₹2,000 at any point of time, the NPCI said. Initially, UPI Lite will be launched as a pilot with multiple banks and app providers.

After due comfort is achieved, the full-scale commercial launch with compliance timelines for on-boarding for the issuers and app providers will be declared, NPCI said. The move is in line with the Reserve Bank of India’s framework for facilitating small value digital payments in offline mode, which does not require internet or telecom connectivity.

“Various studies on payment systems have observed that about 75 per cent of the total volume of retail transactions (including cash) in India are below ₹100,” the NPCI said, adding that about 50 per cent of the total UPI transactions have a transaction value of up to ₹200.

Replenishment of funds

A user of UPI App will have the option to enable UPI Lite on their UPI app. Once enabled, the user can allocate funds from their bank account to UPI Lite. Replenishment of funds in UPI Lite will however, be allowed only in online mode with additional factor authentication (AFA) or using UPI AutoPay. However, UPI Lite transactions will be offered without AFA or a UPI PIN.

Since its launch in 2016, UPI has seen huge popularity and user adoption. In February 2022, 452.74 crore payments valued at ₹8.26-lakh crore were made through UPI. NPCI has set a target of 1 billion UPI transactions daily in the next three to five years.