RBI’s UPI123Pay Makes Digital Payments a Reality For Feature Phone Users

Offline digital payments

India’s apex bank, the Reserve Bank of India has rolled out UPI123Pay to allow feature phone users to make digital payments. This initiative is specifically targeted at rural demographics who don’t yet own a smartphone.

Feature phone owners can use UPI123Pay to make digital payments without requiring an internet connection. It allows users to transfer money from one bank to another using all payment modes, except scanning QR codes.

In addition to this, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das also announced the launch of DigiSaathi, a 24×7 helpline for digital payments. Users can call on 14431 and 1800 891 3333 from their phones to get assistance on digital payments and even register their grievances.

“UPI123Pay is about empowering more people to experience digital payments through feature phones. DigiSaathi is all about further enhancing trust in the digital payment ecosystem,” RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said.

Until now, users could make digital payments on their feature phones via NUUP (National Unified USSD Platform) using the shortcode of *99#. But this didn’t see the uptick that the RBI expected.

RBI, in its statement, said, “This option is cumbersome and not popular. Considering that there are more than 40 crore feature phone mobile subscribers in the country, UPI123pay will materially improve the options for such users to access UPI.”

How to use UPI123Pay?

UPI123Pay has all the features that a smartphone user can access. RBI said making digital payments using UPI 123Pay on feature phones entails a three-step process: call, choose, and pay.

To get started, users will have to link their bank account with their feature phone and set up a PIN using their debit or credit card. They need to call on the IVR number and select the service they need, such as LPG gas refill, recharging mobile phones, checking balance, etc.

To transfer money, users need to type the phone number of the person they need to pay, along with their UPI PIN and the amount.

UPI123Pay comes with four distinct features, according to the RBI.

4 features of UPI123Pay:

  • App-based functionality: An app would be installed on the feature phone through which several UPI functions, available on smartphones, will also be available on feature phones.
  • Missed Call: This will allow feature phone users to access their bank account and perform routine transactions such as receiving, transferring funds, regular purchases, bill payments, etc., by giving a missed call on the number displayed at the merchant outlet. The customer will receive an incoming call to authenticate the transaction by entering UPI PIN.
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR): UPI payment through pre-defined IVR numbers would require users to initiate a secured call from their feature phones to a predetermined number and complete UPI on-boarding formalities to be able to start making financial transactions without internet connection.
  • Proximity Sound-based Payments: This uses sound waves to enable contactless, offline, and proximity data communication on any device.

This initiative will further expand the reach of UPI in the country and make India a truly cashless economy.

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