Crores of feature phone users will soon be able to make digital payments as the Reserve Bank on Wednesday proposed to introduced UPI-based payment products for such handsets. Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has emerged as popular mode of payment through smart phones.
India has a large mobile phone consumer base of about 118 crore users (TRAI, October 2021). Of this, a significant number of users are still on feature phones. As per Statista, July 2021, about 74 crore users have smart phones.
However, feature phone users have limited access to innovative payment products. Although such phones have NUUP (National Unified USSD Platform) as an option for availing basic payment services using the short code of *99#, the same has not picked up.
To deepen financial penetration, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said 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. It is proposed to launch a UPI-based payment product for feature phone users. Further details will be announced shortly,” he said.
On the regulatory side, Ficci president Uday Shankar said the announcements regarding simplification and deepening of UPI will further enhance the outreach of digital payment system making it even more seamless.
“As part of the transition from LIBOR, we also look forward to the guidelines on the use of interbank rate or alternative reference rate (ARR) as benchmarks for ECB/Trade Credit,” Shankar said.