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UPI integration in feature phones: Enhancing financial inclusion and digital payments

The integration of UPI in feature phones has opened up a world of opportunities, enabling individuals from all walks of life to participate in the digital payment ecosystem, while also promoting the concept of digital detox.

India TV Tech Desk Edited By: India TV Tech Desk New Delhi Published on: August 10, 2023 19:00 IST
UPI, feature phone, nokia, tech news
Image Source : NOKIA UPI integration in feature phones- Enhancing financial inclusion and digital payments

In a rapidly digitizing world, ensuring financial inclusion for all remains a critical goal. While UPI has gained familiarity among smartphone users, it is important to highlight that now even feature phone users can make UPI payments through a specialized platform called 123PAY.  Considering the substantial user base of approximately 400 million feature phone subscribers in India, this dedicated UPI facility tailored for feature phones is of utmost importance as it paves the way for greater financial inclusivity. This offers feature phone users the convenience of accessing their bank accounts and carrying out various routine transactions. 

When NPCI rolled out 123 Pay it enabled users to initiate actions such as receiving and transferring funds, making payments for regular purchases, and settling bills, among other transactions by simply giving a missed call to the designated number or IVR number-based transactions or SMS-based transactions and last but not the least cutting-edge proximity sound-based payments.

Combining affordable feature phones and integrating UPI features contributes significantly to enhancing financial inclusivity and simplifying digital payments. While 123 Pay has been rolled out for a while, the application-based user interface had been missing, hence the adoption has been minuscule. With Nokia devices now rolling out application-based interface & replicating the smartphone experience of UPI payments on feature phones, consumers would now have the ease of making the UPI payment either via Scan & Pay or sending money to a mobile no. or a UPI ID.

Bridging the Digital Divide

The advent of UPI integration in feature phones is a game-changer in the realm of financial inclusion. Feature phones, with their affordability and widespread accessibility, are widely used by individuals who lack access to smartphones or internet connectivity. By bringing UPI capabilities to these devices, a large segment of the population that was previously excluded from digital payments can now participate in the financial ecosystem. This empowers consumers to access secure and convenient digital payment services, irrespective of their economic background or technological proficiency. 

Simplified Transactions

The integration of UPI in feature phones empowers consumers with a simplified and user-friendly payment experience. Users can easily link their bank accounts to UPI and transact using a secure and convenient platform. The process of making payments, transferring funds, and even receiving money becomes seamless, minimising the dependency on cash transactions and improving overall financial efficiency. With just a few taps on their feature phones, consumers can make payments at retail stores, pay utility bills, recharge their mobiles, and conduct various other transactions hassle-free. We have just launched our feature phones with Scan and pay UPI feature which makes it convenient for so many people.

Enhanced Security

Security is a paramount concern when it comes to digital transactions. UPI integration in feature phones incorporates robust security measures to safeguard user information and transactions. UPI ensures that user data remains secure and protected from potential threats by adhering to strict encryption standards, biometric authentication, and multi-factor verification. Consumers can have peace of mind while conducting digital transactions, knowing that their financial information is well-protected. This instils confidence in consumers and encourages wider adoption of digital payments. 

Overcoming Infrastructure Limitations

Many regions, especially in developing countries, still lack the necessary infrastructure to support widespread smartphone adoption and internet connectivity. UPI integration in feature phones circumvents this limitation by utilizing the existing infrastructure of basic mobile networks. Consumers no longer need to rely on internet access or expensive smartphones to access digital payment services. This enables individuals residing in remote areas or with limited access to internet services to leverage digital payment services, thereby bridging the gap between urban and rural communities. 

Empowering Small Businesses

The integration of UPI in feature phones not only benefits consumers but also has a significant impact on small businesses. By expanding the reach of digital payments to feature phone users, small enterprises and micro-entrepreneurs can offer a wider range of payment options to their customers. This leads to increased sales, improved cash flow management, and greater financial inclusion for small businesses, ultimately fostering economic growth and stability. Consumers can conveniently pay for products and services using their feature phones, eliminating the need for cash transactions. 


The integration of UPI in feature phones has opened up a world of opportunities, enabling individuals from all walks of life to participate in the digital payment ecosystem, while also promoting the concept of digital detox. UPI integration in feature phones is pivotal in enhancing financial inclusion and driving the transition towards a cashless society by bridging the digital divide, simplifying transactions, and ensuring security. It also helps individuals detach from excessive screen time and prioritize mindful usage of digital technology. Overcoming infrastructure limitations, and empowering small businesses,  this transformative solution allows millions of people to effortlessly navigate the digital landscape, unlocking a realm of unprecedented financial inclusivity and convenience.

(This article has been originally written by Ravi Kunwar, VP India and APAC for HMD Global- Home of Nokia Phones. All the thoughts mentioned in the article are personal, and India TV takes no ownership for the same)

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