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Coinbase stops UPI payments in India

tl;dr Summary: Within days of announcing the launch of its cryptocurrency exchange in India, Coinbase removed the support of the popular Unified Payments Interface (UPI) from its platform, much to the dismay of its users.

On Apr 7, 2022, Coinbase announced its entry into India, which tops the list of the most crypto accounts in the world. 

But users got a rude shock a few days later when they could not purchase tokens using the UPI interface, which got added to the platform after weeks of testing.

The app alerted users that they couldn’t use the UPI system currently, and didn’t present an alternative payment option. Thus, people in India, despite having access to the app, can’t actually use Coinbase until either this is resolved or they allow a different payment method.

Source: https://help.coinbase.com/en-in/coinbase/getting-started/add-a-payment-method/payment-methods

UPI is a real-time payments system that helps in instantly transferring funds between any two bank accounts on a mobile platform. The payments system is a big part of the government of India’s Digital India initiative and has reported a massive 40 billion transactions in the financial year 2022.

The change seems to be related to the statement made by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), a governing body overseeing UPI within the country. The NPCI said it was not aware of any cryptocurrency exchange using UPI which is true as Coinbase is not the first exchange to have problems integrating UPI into its platform. 

Crypto is not illegal in India, thanks to the Supreme Court that previously overturned the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) ban on crypto over two years ago. It is not a secret that the RBI has reservations about the use of cryptocurrencies having compared it to a “ponzi scheme” and a tool “specifically developed to bypass the regulated financial system.”

Coinbase, in a statement to TechCrunch, said the company is committed to working with NPCI to figure out how they can support UPI on their platform.

“Coinbase is proud to be hiring and investing in India and to explore ways to bring the potential of the crypto economy to India. India has a rich tradition of innovation and the burgeoning crypto ecosystem and adoption of the technology is a great example of this. As we enter the Indian market, we are actively experimenting with a number of payment methods and partners to enable our customers to seamlessly make their crypto purchases.

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