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“UPI Will Go Beyond Smartphones,” Says Varun Sridhar, Lead, Realme PaySa

The second phase of UPI Hackathon will soon roll out and the Lead of Realme PaySa, Varun Sridhar shares insights for the same.

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Varun Sridhar, Lead, Realme PaySa

Realme’s venture into the digital financial services happens with Realme PaySa taking the reins. The company addresses mobile payments as a big part of its strategy and chooses UPI. The company has collaborated with NPCI and HDFC for a UPI Hackathon which encourages candidates to come up with solutions for the digital financial services space. The winner and runner up’s solutions will be incorporated into Realme PaySa platform and they will win 10 lakhs and 5 lakhs respectively. 

Varun Sridhar, Lead at Realme PaySa interacts with Express Computer’s Radhika Udas about the UPI Hackathon and more. 

Realme PaySa has collaborated with NPCI and HDFC for a UPI Hackathon. Could you elaborate on the same? 

 UPI has seen tremendous growth and has been swiftly adopted by ~100-150mn Indians. We think that in the next 3 years, ~300 to 400mn users should migrate to digital payments and should use it as the primary payment option. At realme PaySa, we are offering a mobile payment solution as a key part of our strategy and thus UPI is a natural choice. Realme is a co-created brand and thus we thought to start with a country-wide hackathon with cash prize of 10 lacs for the winning team and 5 lacs for the runners up. We are very happy that NPCI and HDFC Bank, with their deep experience in digital payments, have supported our effort to find the next disruptive use cases. We were overwhelmed as we received 4,000 registrations in Phase 1 from across India and have shortlisted 90 outstanding entries.  

You will now be entering the second phase of the competition. What makes technology an integral part of this phase and why? 

We will now work with the 90 shortlisted teams to thrash out the details and evaluate technical/financial/regulatory feasibility. We were very clear from the start that the winning team should be able to implement the idea and we promise to take it live across India. Thus, the biggest differentiator is to convert the idea to a POC. To do this, understanding the technology framework for UPI is necessary and also to bring true innovation in a native digital product, tech innovation is key.

What kind of ideas for better UPI apps are you looking at? Please mention a few that caught your interest.

We are looking for innovative solutions that are either targeted to make life simpler, save costs, help solve a problem or bring new business opportunities. These solutions could be to make customer registration simpler and easier or developing a self on-boarding process for small merchants and shops for accepting payment through UPI, or for small-ticket lending or ticket purchase for public transport. We have received many interesting ideas around QR codes, UPI based ticketing system for public transport, voice assistance-based UPI transaction, micro-investment through UPI etc. We are looking forward to seeing the detailed solution approach of participants.

What does your city-wise data suggest about UPI applications? Which areas should you look at for problem-solving? 

      Below are some potential areas for problem-solving:

  • Multiple-device registration to UPI: How could one UPI registration be used on other devices like smartwatches or smart TVs
  • Lending: How UPI could be used for providing loans more easily and cheaper to users? How UPI can help in loan repayments
  • Investments: Micro investments using UPI platform in mutual funds, gold etc.
  • Public transport and government services: How to leverage UPI to make access to public transport simple and easy or transaction for government services easier? 
  • B2B solutions using UPI: Many businesses are constantly transacting and paying other businesses. How could UPI add value to some use cases in specific sectors such as FMCG, pharma, retail, telecom, agriculture, etc. 
  • Shops and small businesses: How to onboard a merchant on UPI in less than 5 mins with a very simple DIY process? 

What do you believe will be the future of UPI applications?

In the next 2 to 3 years, UPI will become a very evolved and accepted platform by consumers, retailers, institutions, regulators and large or small businesses. We expect 4 to 5 main players to lead the digital payment space followed by multiple smaller and mid-sized specialists who would build specific use cases for specific segments and have a loyal customer base. We also think that the movement from a pure payment app to either a financial service super APP or a lifestyle services super APP or a community super APP will happen. Lastly, UPI will go beyond smartphones and as 5G, IoT and other innovations become commonly used products, UPI will integrate seamlessly.  

How does Realme PaySa ensure cybersecurity?

For Realme PaySa, data privacy, data security and overall cybersecurity are very important. We have implemented many layers of tech, process and policy-related measures including data localisation, data encryptions, 24/7 monitoring of unauthorised access attempts, different storage policies for personal data and so on. We also got ourselves audited by 2 external companies before launch and will continue to do this regularly.

How does Realme PaySa plan to work with other UPI Applications? 

UPI works on the principle of interoperability that allows a user registered on one UPI application to send or receive money to/from a user who is registered on some other UPI app. Therefore, a Realme PaySa UPI user will be able to make payments to another user who might be registered on some other UPI App or will be able to scan the QR of some other UPI provider.

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