An Indian messaging platform has won a $100,000 challenge to build a payments solution for feature phones in the country. This assumes significance as over half a billion people, who do not have smartphones, will now be able to transact easily and securely via their feature phones. The solution uses APIs or encrypted SMS to enable UPI payment through BillPay SMS, QR Code, or contacts.
The challenge launched by National Payments Corporation of India, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship received several applications from banks, telecom companies and start-ups but 'Gupshup' emerged victorious.
Winners will receive pilot support in India from NPCI. They will also receive support from CIIE.CO's Bharat Inclusion Initiative which provides a continuum of support across incubation, acceleration and seed-funding to innovators leveraging technology to build inclusive businesses.
National Payments Corporation of India said that once feature phones are equipped with the latest technology for payments, the country would be witnessing redefined customers' behaviour towards digital payments.
Priyanka Chopra, COO of CIIE said: "The need for flexible and easy-to-use contactless payment solutions for users across all segments has become even more salient in today's environment. It was heartening to see the diversity and simplicity of solutions looking to tackle this problem."
Besides this, Pawan Bakhshi, India Lead, Financial Services for the poor at the Bill & Melinda Gates said, "The challenge supports the foundation's continuous effort to ensure that the poor have access to the relevant formal financial products and services which they can use to build more prosperous and secure lives for themselves and their communities."