Exploring UPI Payments for NRIs: A Complete Guide

Get a complete understanding of the role of UPI payments for NRI - A 101 Guide
October 6, 2023
min read

Content overview:

1. Introduction to UPI Payments

2. UPI Accessibility for NRIs

3. Registration Process

4. Making Payments through UPI

5. Benefits of UPI for NRI Customers

6. Common Concerns

7. Conclusion

Introduction to UPI Payments

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has significantly simplified the way we transact in today's digital era. It is a real-time payment system that facilitates instant money transfer between bank accounts via a mobile platform. Established by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), UPI has become a popular choice among users for its simplicity, speed, and secure nature.

The essence of UPI lies in its seamless integration which allows multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application. By combining several banking features, seamless fund routing, and merchant payments under one roof, it ensures a user-friendly experience. With a 2-factor authentication ensuring secure transactions, UPI provides an efficient platform for the robust growth of digital payments.

A remarkable feature of UPI is that it operates round the clock, providing the flexibility to transfer money anytime, unlike traditional banking hours. This is especially beneficial for individuals who may have time constraints due to work or other commitments.

Let's consider a practical scenario. Imagine a situation where an individual needs to send money to a family member urgently at night. With traditional bank transfers, they might have to wait till the next working day. However, with UPI, they can transfer the amount instantly, thus providing a solution during emergencies.

Furthermore, UPI does away with the need to furnish bank details such as account number and IFSC code. Instead, it utilizes a Virtual Payment Address (VPA), which acts as an identifier for transactions. This not only simplifies the transaction process but also adds a layer of privacy, making it a preferred choice for many.

UPI has paved the way for a new era of digital transactions that are quick, convenient, and secure. By easing the transaction process and reducing the time involved, UPI is indeed a revolutionary step towards achieving a digital economy. This innovation in the banking sector has not only fostered quicker transactions but also has implications for increased financial inclusion and ease of doing business.

UPI Accessibility for NRIs

The popularity and efficiency of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in streamlining transactions have prompted a broad spectrum of users to embrace this platform, including Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). The ease of executing transactions through a mobile application, even from thousands of miles away, holds a particular appeal for NRIs, providing them a slice of financial autonomy even when they are residing outside India.

The primary concern for NRIs is often about the accessibility and convenience of managing financial transactions within India. UPI, with its simplistic yet robust structure, emerges as a viable solution. Let’s say, for instance, an NRI named Ravi wants to send money to his aging parents residing in India. UPI platforms can offer a hassle-free and instant solution. With just a few taps on his smartphone, Ravi can transfer funds to his parent's bank account in real-time, which is an undeniable advantage in exigent situations.

Moreover, the provision of creating a Virtual Payment Address (VPA) enhances the level of security and privacy associated with transactions, which is often a concern for many NRIs. This feature obviates the need to share bank account details for every transaction, instead, a simple, memorable VPA is all that’s required.

However, the accessibility of UPI for NRIs is predicated on their possession of an Indian bank account and a registered Indian mobile number. This prerequisite is crucial for generating the UPI ID, which acts as the linchpin for all UPI transactions.

As the dialogue about broadening the ambit of UPI to accommodate NRIs in a more user-friendly manner continues, the existing setup already provides a reasonable degree of convenience. It's this blend of simplicity, security, and swift transaction processing that makes UPI a notable contender in the array of digital payment options available to NRIs, aligning with their financial management needs while living abroad.

Registration Process

Registering for UPI services is a straightforward process, albeit with a few prerequisites. The process opens a gateway for smooth financial transactions, which is especially advantageous for NRIs looking to manage their financial matters in India. 

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of the registration process, illustrated with a simplified example:

1. Bank Account & Mobile Number: 

   - First and foremost, an NRI needs an active bank account in India.

   - An Indian mobile number is also required, which will be linked to the UPI account.

   - Example: Let’s assume Nisha, an NRI residing in the USA, has a bank account with a well-known bank in India and a registered Indian mobile number.

2. Download UPI App:

   - Nisha can choose any UPI-enabled application from the app store on her smartphone.

   - Banks usually have their own UPI-enabled apps, or she could use popular apps like Google Pay or PhonePe.

3. App Installation & Mobile Verification:

   - Post downloading, Nisha will need to open the app and enter her Indian mobile number for verification.

   - A one-time password (OTP) will be sent to her number for authentication.

4. Creating a VPA (Virtual Payment Address):

   - Once verified, Nisha will create a unique VPA, which acts like an email ID for payments.

   - Example: nisha123@upi. This VPA will be used for all UPI transactions.

5. Linking Bank Account:

   - Post VPA creation, Nisha will link her Indian bank account by selecting it from the list of banks provided within the app.

   - The app will fetch the bank details automatically using her mobile number.

6. Setting UPI PIN:

   - Finally, Nisha will need to set a UPI PIN for her account. This PIN will be required for authorizing all transactions.

   - She can set the UPI PIN by following the instructions provided in the app.

7. Completion:

   - Once all these steps are completed, Nisha’s UPI account will be active and ready for transactions.

The procedure is designed to be user-friendly, ensuring a smooth setup experience. It's the ease of this registration process coupled with the rapid transaction capability that makes UPI a preferred choice for many NRIs.

Making payments via UPI 

Making payments via UPI (Unified Payments Interface) is a breeze once the initial setup is completed. The process is seamless, secure, and takes mere seconds to accomplish. Below, we delve into how NRIs can utilise UPI for making payments, illustrated with relatable examples.

1. Choosing a Beneficiary:

    - First, the NRI user needs to select a recipient. This could be a service provider, a shop, or an individual.

    - Example: Nisha, our NRI, decides to send some funds to her cousin, Raj, in India.

2. Entering the Payee Information:

    - Nisha will need to input Raj’s UPI ID or linked mobile number in the UPI app.

    - Alternatively, she could scan a QR code if making a payment at a shop.

3. Payment Initiation:

    - Nisha enters the amount she wishes to transfer.

    - She can also enter a note, mentioning the purpose of the payment; this is optional though.

    - Example: She enters Birthday Gift in the note section.

4. Authentication:

    - To authorize the transaction, Nisha will be required to enter her UPI PIN.

    - This is a critical step to ensure the security of the transaction.

5. Transaction Processing:

    - Upon entering the UPI PIN, the transaction will be processed instantly.

    - UPI’s fast processing is what makes it a go-to choice for real-time payments.

6. Confirmation:

    - Both Nisha and Raj will receive an SMS confirming the transaction.

    - Additionally, the UPI app will also display a confirmation screen with the transaction details.

7. Checking Transaction History:

    - Nisha can review this transaction anytime under the transaction history section in her UPI app.

8. Recurring Payments:

    - If Nisha needs to make regular payments, like monthly subscriptions, she can set up auto-pay through UPI, which further simplifies the payment process.

The convenience, speed, and secure nature of UPI transactions significantly ease the process of managing financial commitments in India for NRIs like Nisha. Through a few simple steps, NRIs can ensure their financial transactions are executed promptly and securely.

Benefits of UPI for NRI Customers

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has turned out to be a game-changer in the digital payment space in India, with its advantages extending to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) as well. Here are some notable benefits of UPI for NRI customers:

1. Ease of Transactions:

   - UPI simplifies the money transfer process, making it easy for NRIs to send money to their families or manage financial obligations in India.

   - Example: Rahul, an NRI, can effortlessly pay his parent's utility bills in India via UPI.

2. Real-Time Processing:

   - UPI processes transactions in real-time, which is crucial for NRIs who often need immediate transaction processing to meet time-sensitive financial needs.

   - Example: In case of an emergency, Rahul can send funds instantly to his family.

3. Low Transaction Costs:

   - UPI transactions usually have lower fees compared to traditional bank transfers, which is a financial relief for NRIs.

   - Example: Rahul saves on transaction fees when paying for his sister’s college fees via UPI.

4. Security:

   - The two-factor authentication in UPI provides an added layer of security, assuring NRIs that their money is safe during transactions.

   - Example: Rahul appreciates the additional security while making high-value transactions.

5. 24/7 Availability:

   - UPI services are available 24/7, allowing NRIs to make transactions anytime, irrespective of the time zone differences.

   - Example: Despite the time difference, Rahul can make payments as per his convenience.

6. Access to Various Financial Services:

   - UPI provides NRIs access to a range of financial services and payment use cases.

   - Example: Rahul can pay for goods, services, and even invest in financial products using UPI.

7. Seamless Integration with Bank Accounts:

   - UPI’s seamless integration with bank accounts enables NRIs to manage their finances efficiently.

   - Example: Rahul can link his NRE/NRO account with UPI, streamlining his financial management.

8. Transaction History Tracking:

   - The UPI app keeps a record of all transactions, helping NRIs like Rahul to keep track of their expenditures and transfers easily.

The above benefits make UPI a preferred choice for NRIs, making financial management and transactions an easy task while living abroad.

Common Concerns in UPI for NRIs

While UPI has emerged as a revolutionary platform easing the financial transactions for many including NRIs, there are some common concerns that often come up. Here’s a dive into some of those concerns:

1. Currency Conversion Rates:

   - NRIs often worry about the currency conversion rates when transacting from their foreign accounts.

   - Example: When Sunita sends money to her family in India, the conversion rates affect the amount her family receives.

2. Service Availability:

   - UPI service availability across different international banks is a concern. Some banks may not yet support UPI, limiting the ease of transacting for NRIs.

   - Example: Raj finds that his bank in the USA doesn't support UPI, which hinders his ability to make seamless transactions to India.

3. Privacy Concerns:

   - The requirement to share personal information during the registration process can be a concern for privacy-conscious individuals.

   - Example: Sunita is hesitant to share her phone number linked to her bank account due to privacy concerns.

4. Regulatory Compliance:

   - Being compliant with the regulations of both the country of residence and India can sometimes become a complex process for NRIs.

   - Example: Raj is unsure about the tax implications on the money transferred to India via UPI.

5. Security Risks:

   - Though UPI has strong security protocols, the risk of phishing or fraud is a common concern, especially among those new to digital payments.

   - Example: Sunita receives a phishing email asking for her UPI credentials, which worries her about the security of her funds.

6. Technical Glitches:

   - Occasional technical glitches or errors in the UPI platform can cause transaction delays or failures, causing inconvenience.

   - Example: Raj faces a technical error which delays his urgent money transfer to his family in India.

Addressing these concerns with accurate information and taking necessary precautions can help NRIs utilise UPI services effectively while ensuring their peace of mind.


The inception of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has undeniably simplified the way we transact money, making it quicker and easier. Especially for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), UPI opens up a corridor of seamless financial transactions to their home country, facilitating a better connection with their roots. Through UPI, sending money to family, paying bills, or managing investments in India becomes a task of a few clicks. 

For instance, consider the scenario of Nikhil, an NRI living in the UK. With UPI, he can effortlessly pay his property bills in India or send money to his parents within minutes. The simplicity and speed of transactions via UPI are exemplary. Furthermore, having a UPI ID adds a layer of privacy to transactions which Nikhil appreciates.

However, the journey isn't without its set of bumps. There are concerns regarding currency conversion rates, service availability across all international banks, privacy concerns, regulatory compliance, and security risks. Like many others, Nikhil too gets anxious about the varying conversion rates and the security of his transactions.

Moreover, with the increasing number of digital frauds, ensuring a secure transaction is paramount. The good part is that addressing and understanding these concerns, and adhering to the guidelines provided by the banks and UPI service providers can largely mitigate these issues.

In conclusion, UPI for NRIs is not just a mode of financial transaction; it's a bridge enabling them to maintain a strong financial presence in their home country. As awareness spreads and systems get more robust, the trust in UPI is likely to grow, making financial management a less daunting task for NRIs. The benefits certainly outweigh the concerns, and with a cautious approach, NRIs can make the most out of UPI services.

FAQs on UPI for NRIs

Q1. What is UPI and how does it work for NRIs?

UPI, or Unified Payments Interface, is a real-time payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India to facilitate inter-bank transactions. NRIs can use UPI to make instant payments or transfers to India from their bank account, provided their bank supports UPI services.

Q2. Can NRIs use UPI for transactions in India?

Yes, NRIs can use UPI for transactions in India if their bank supports UPI services. They will need to link their NRI bank account to a UPI-enabled app to make transactions.

Q3. How can an NRI set up a UPI ID?

NRIs can set up a UPI ID by downloading a UPI-enabled app, registering with their NRI bank account details, and creating a UPI ID following the app's instructions.

Q4. Are there any transaction limits for NRIs using UPI?

The transaction limits for NRIs using UPI would depend on the guidelines set by their bank and the UPI app they are using.

Q5. How secure is it for NRIs to use UPI for transactions?

UPI employs multiple layers of security to ensure safe transactions. However, NRIs should ensure they are using verified and secure UPI apps, and follow best practices to maintain security.

Q6. What are the charges for NRIs using UPI?

The charges for using UPI services would depend on the bank and the UPI app. It's advisable to check with the respective bank or app for the exact fee structure.

Q7. Can NRIs link multiple bank accounts to a single UPI ID?

Yes, NRIs can link multiple bank accounts to a single UPI ID and choose the account they wish to transact with each time.

Q8. Is there a specific UPI app for NRIs?

While there isn't a specific UPI app exclusively for NRIs, most UPI apps that are compatible with NRI bank accounts can be used by NRIs.

Q9. What to do in case of a failed transaction or other issues while using UPI?

In case of a failed transaction or other issues, NRIs can contact the customer support of the respective UPI app or their bank for assistance.

Q10. Are there any currency conversion fees for NRIs using UPI?

Currency conversion fees may apply for NRIs using UPI, depending on the bank and the UPI app. It's advisable to check the fee details with the respective bank or app before making transactions.

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