Everything you need to know about Bharat QR Code

 In a move to promote Digital India initiative and encourage cashless payments, the government has launched BharatQR its own QR code platform. BharatQR will be the first platform with
interoperability which will allow payments from various cards, including Visa and Mastercard.'

The launch of BharatQR will be a step forward in digital payments at retail outlets. It will make payments seamless for the buyer, making them possible without card swiping machines. It will also enable the buyer to make payments to retailers without using the merchant's ID or number.

What sets BharatQR apart is the fact that it is jointly developed by - the National Payments Corporation of India, the creator, and issuer of RuPay cards, MasterCard, American Express, and Visa. The Bharat QR has been formulated under the instructions of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

This means payments can be made on the platform through MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, or Rupay. Commenting on the development, Manoj Adlakha, CEO American Express Banking Corporation said, "BharatQR is a path breaking initiative to bring quick, easy and affordable payments to both merchants and consumers. American Express is proud to be a part of this 'global first capability,' which will significantly contribute towards the growth of Digital India."

What is Bharat QR Code and what are its benefits?
Bharat QR Code is a common QR code built for ease of payments. It is a standard that will support Visa, MasterCard and Rupay cards for wider acceptance. Currently, if you want to make a cashless payment at most stores, you need a credit and debit card to swipe and enter the PIN code for authentication. ALSO READ: Unified Payments Interface: UPI-based apps of every bank on Google Play Store

However, Bharat QR code will enable the merchants to accept digital payments without the Point of Sale (PoS) swiping machine. It will allow customers of any bank to use their smartphone app to make payment using their debit card. In terms of benefits, merchants will no longer need to invest in buying the PoS machine. With no PoS machine, merchants will also be able to do away with the transaction fees charged by the banks for using the PoS terminal.

Right now only 15 banks have come on board and are in the process of deploying Bharat QR code. The 15 banks are Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Citi Union Bank, DCB Bank Ltd, Karur Vysya Bank, HDFC Bank Ltd, ICICI Bank Ltd, IDBI Bank Ltd, Punjab National Bank, RBL Bank Ltd, State Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Vijaya Bank and Yes Bank Ltd.

While Visa, MasterCard, and Rupay card holders have been integrated, American Express is in the final stage. “Right now we are in the final stages of integration. I will not give the timeframe whether it will happen in 6-8 weeks. We are on board and work is on. We are working on the integration,” said Manoj Adlakha, CEO India, American Express Banking Corp.

How is BharatQR code different?

BharatQR is a common QR code jointly developed by all the four major card payment companies—National Payments Corp. of India that runs RuPay cards, MasterCard, Visa and American Express—under instructions from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

“It is a major revolutionary step because of interoperability. The merchants will be identified by one QR code whether the payment is through MasterCard, Visa or RuPay and this will result in deepening of acceptance infrastructure,” said Dewang Neralla, chief executive officer, Atom Technologies Ltd, a payment service provider.

Besides working as a common interface for the Visa/MasterCard/RuPay platform, BharatQR will also facilitate acceptance using Aadhaar-enabled payments and Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

“Anyone who has a QR scanning/reading app, whether it’s a UPI-based or Aadhaar-based app, the payment can be done. It is a better alternative to physical point-of-sale (PoS) infrastructure which involves capital costs,” added Neralla.

Why is the government promoting BharatQR?

The government expects BharatQR to turn out as the next big digital payment solution after the initial success of Bharat Interface for Money, or BHIM, an app developed to further its cashless push.

“This will be very convenient for those people who are into mobile banking and do not want to use debit or credit cards for small value payments. It is oriented to enable small and medium size merchants to acquire more customers,” said Naveen Surya, managing director, ItzCash, and chairman, Payments Council of India.

Both methods are considered as an alternative to cash after the government’s demonetisation announcement on 8 November.

Even as the currency has now started to normalize, the Narendra Modi-led government is trying to encourage digital payments in the country by making them cost-effective.

Who can use it?

As a customer, to use BharatQR code you need to have a smartphone and must download the bank app that is compatible with BharatQR code.

While most banks have multiple apps, BharatQR code has been implemented only on select apps. “Every bank has chosen one or two apps. For instance, ICICI Bank Ltd has chosen Pockets and ICICI Mobile Banking app. HDFC Bank has launched it with PayZapp,” said T.R. Ramachandran, group country manager, India and South Asia, Visa.

Currently, BharatQR code works on Android and iOS platform and not on Windows. However, a deployment option via USSD is being worked out to support non smartphone users.

Right now only credit, debit and prepaid card holders with the member bank can use this service and the service is not currently available on Unified Payment Interface.

How to use it?

BharatQR code is of two types—static and dynamic.

The static QR code requires you to first scan the code and enter the amount on your smartphone and authorize with a PIN, after which the money will get debited. In case of dynamic QR code, the merchant will generate a new QR code for every transaction. Here you don’t have to enter the amount. You can just scan and enter the PIN and the payment will go through.

“Static QR just identifies the merchant. When you scan it, you will get the name of the store where you scan. Then you have to enter the amount on your phone. When you enter the details the network will recognize the amount, run a query to a bank where you hold the account and check if you have enough money. Once you give your authorization and amount will be debited from your account and credited the merchant account,” said Ramachandran.

On dynamic QR the code is generated real time where you will have the store name and the amount. Here you don’t have to enter the amount on your phone.

“We anticipate that small stores will use static which is a cardboard with the QR. Small merchants don’t have the infrastructure to do dynamic,” said Ramachandran

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