The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) – the umbrella body for all retail payment systems on the Subcontinent – is considering a permanent ban on all gaming-related Unified Payment Interface (UPI) transactions below INR 50. According to gaming industry sources, this comes from pressure from the banking industry.
Banks have no incentive to process UPI transactions since Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) charges were waived by the Centre. MDR is the fee that merchants pay to banks for accepting digital payments from customers. The merchant discount rate is a percentage of the total amount of the transaction.
Banks are troubled by the increasing number of outages and technical declines when the UPI channel is burdened by massive surges of transaction volumes. This comes especially during cricket matches of the Indian Premier League.
Major Hindu festivals Diwali and Janmashtami are good occasions for families to gather and bond through casual gaming. According to the ENV research paper, Teen Patti, also known as “Indian poker”, is the most common choice. With celebrations usually starting early, the two festivals carry with themselves a whole month of intensive Teen Patty gambling. Nevertheless, the game is popular all year round.
The game has been popular among desi players for centuries. Family gatherings and home parties enjoying 3 Patti do not pose a risk for being busted as organized gambling. Yet, the current COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing rules have brought a shift towards online Teen Patti real money playing where instant online payment options such as UPI are used. The casual nature of such gaming makes low-ticket transactions dominant and take place on gambling websites such as PureWin.com
Immigration also supports the trend. When a person moves to work or study to a new Indian city or state, or even abroad, online Teen Patty provides a means to connect and bond with their family and friends. Integrated chat options bring back the fun from offline in-person gaming.
Large-scale penetration of cheap smartphones and data plans, together with reliable fast internet 4G infrastructure, facilitate this transition.
According to NPCI statistics, since the pilot launch of the UPI system in 2016, the number of banks live on UPI has grown from 21 to 216 as of March 2021. Transaction volume has exceeded 273 crores to a value a little above â¹ 5 lakh crore for the month.
Wordline India recently announced that UPI continued to be the most used payment option in 2020 with a market share volume of 41 percent in person-to-merchant (P2M) transactions. Prepaid payment instruments (PPL) follow with a 26 percent share.
In terms of the value of transactions, however, debit and credit cards dominate with 40 and 28 percent respectively.
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