RBI to Launch UPI for Feature Phones Today


You don’t need a smartphone or internet connection to do Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments anymore. To enable thousands of feature phone users with the digital payment ecosystem in the country, the Reserve Bank of India is all set to launch UPI123Pay on Tuesday.  “Watch out for the launch of UPI for feature phones – UPI123Pay and 24*7 helpline for digital payments – DigiSaathi by RBI Governor @DasShaktikanta at 12 noon on March 08, 2022,” the central bank of India wrote on Twitter.

With this new mode of digital payments, the individuals will be able to make direct payments to others via UPI via feature phones also. At present, the UPI payment facility is restricted to only smartphone users with internet connections.

UPI has emerged as one of the most popular mode of payments in the recent years, especially after demonetisation. It is the single largest retail payments systems in the country in terms of volume of transactions, indicating its wide acceptance.

Why UPI Payment for Feature Phones

RBI governor Shaktikanta Das announced to launch a UPI-based payment system for feature phones on November 8, 2021.”In order to further deepen digital payments and make them more inclusive, ease transactions for consumers, facilitate greater participation of retail customers in various segments of the financial markets and enhance the capacity of service providers, it is proposed to launch UPI-based payment products for feature phone users leveraging on the Reserve Bank’s regulatory Sandbox on Retail Payments,” said Das.

This process will make the small-value transactions simpler than ever “through a mechanism of ‘on-device’ wallet in UPI applications.”

“India has a large mobile phone consumer base of about 118 crore mobile users (TRAI, October 2021)1 of which about 74 crore (Statista, July 2021) have smart phones indicating that there is a significant number of feature phone users in the country. Feature phone users have limited access to innovative payment products,” the central bank said earlier.

“To deepen financial penetration, it is important to bring feature phone users into the mainstream digital payments. In the first cohort of RBI Regulatory Sandbox, some innovators had successfully demonstrated their solutions for feature phone payments under the theme of ‘Retail Payments’. These products, coupled with other complimentary solutions, will facilitate UPI-based digital payment solutions on feature phones to promote wider digitisation,” mentioned a statement released by the Reserve Bank of India.

UPI123Pay: How is it Going to Help you?

“Popular UPI payment platforms such as PhonePe, Google Pay, Paytm are now more than just payment tools and transforming into full-stack financial service providers. As digital payment systems are set to trump offline transactions, increasing the limit is a welcome step. This is also in sync with the government’s long-term agenda to build start-up India and Digital India,” said Siddharth Maurya, resource specialist at Fund Management.

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