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What do GPay, Xerox, and Surf have in common?

When you hear the word "Xerox", you're actually thinking of "photocopy". Xerox is the company that makes photocopiers. In fact, Xerox released an infomercial that attempted to dissuade people from using the word "xerox" to mean photocopy. Just as the Indian word for detergent powder is "Surf", and the detergent bar is "Rin", the word for mobile online payment around Aizawl, at least, seems to be "GPay".

GPay is the mobile payment service from Google alongside other services like PayTM, PhonePe, and the host of app services that every bank seems to have. You won't see Google trying to dissuade people from saying "Min lo GPay rawh" though – they're probably very happy with how their service covers a majority of mobile payments in Mizoram, if they even notice it that is.

So what is GPay really? And why are there exactly ten people going around the city of Aizawl ranting about phone numbers and being a general inconvenience to shopkeepers?

In 2016, the NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) launched and piloted a revolutionary system called Unified Payments Interface, or UPI for short. Simply put, the UPI system acts as a trusted mediator between banks. And because banks now have a centralized digital mediator, things like inter-bank fund transfers that used to take days now take place practically instantaneously.

As an individual, you are identified by the phone number in your bank record. This allows the UPI system to link any bank account you may have to an ID: a UPI ID. A UPI ID looks like an email address but without the domain (.com, .org, etc.) at the end. Here are some examples: suddenmuanga@sbi, arpsmanga@upi, 9436142069@okicici. And much like an email address, you can give your UPI ID out and ask people to pay you there. You can even have multiple IDs, again like an email address.

The UPI system is also open to mobile applications and that's where apps like GPay and BHIM and Yono come in. These apps operate on top of the UPI system – the payment transactions you make through them are actually UPI transactions behind the scenes. In fact, if you look at your GPay profile in the app, you can find your UPI ID that is being used for these transactions.

Apps like these offer their own unique user experiences (UX) to using the UPI system. For example, GPay lets users use their phone numbers instead of their UPI IDs. GPay has done an excellent job of UX-ing away the UPI system it uses in the background; so much so that it is not uncommon for exclusive GPay users to have a UPI ID without knowing they even had one.

To wrap up, the UPI system is a revolutionary system that makes mobile and online payments a breeze. As GPay is only one of the options, asking for payments on your phone number actually limits you to other GPay users only. Using your UPI ID instead opens you up to everyone else who doesn't use GPay – all ten of us in Aizawl.

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