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Amazon, Facebook compete for India's digital payments business

US groups join with local companies to enter biggest online payments market

The number of online payments in India soared to 25.5 billion in 2020, up 70% on the year before and marking the world's highest number of transactions, far ahead of China's 15.7 billion.  (Source photos by Ken Kobayashi and Kosaku Mimura)

MUMBAI -- U.S. and Indian companies are seeking to participate in a planned expansion of the payments system business in India, which is home to the world's largest online payments market. The Reserve Bank of India, the nation's central bank, plans to build a new payment system, with six consortia, whose members include Amazon and Facebook, aiming to win an operating license.

In February 2020, the Reserve Bank of India announced a plan to invite applications for a license to set up a New Umbrella Entity (NUE), under which multiple companies would create and operate retail payment systems across the country. The central bank set the end of March 2021 as the deadline for applications and the submission of concrete business plans. Those awarded licenses will be entrusted with a wide range of responsibilities, including "settlement methods, standards, and technology development."

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