Airtel Payments Bank, identity technology company IDEMIA and Nokia brand phone maker HMD Global have joined hands to bring the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) on feature phones in India, a joint statement said on Wednesday.
All three organisations would be working together to introduce an advanced offline payment system over the next few months that would facilitate the use of the digital rupee on feature phones and promote financial inclusion, the statement said.
"Our partnership with IDEMIA and Nokia is a testament to our unwavering commitment to drive financial inclusion in the country. We are confident that once we move from the design phase and launch the solution commercially with all required approvals, it will play a pivotal role in advancing the accessibility of financial services," said Prasad Routray, corporate business and alliances head at Airtel Payments Bank.
According to the industry estimate, there are about 25 crore feature phone users in India. For the first time in the industry, an attempt is being made to bring CBDC payments on feature phones via an application interface, the statement said. Under this collaboration, IDEMIA will offer an offline layer to ensure instant and secure transactions without the need for online validation.
"Our alliance with Nokia and Airtel Payments Bank is poised to provide valuable insights and contributions to the evolution of offline retail CBDC systems," IDEMIA's SVP for payment solutions Amit Kakatikar said.
The technology will work with the digital rupee in India and with any other solution, decentralised or centralised, token or account-based, developed in-house by a central bank or independent software vendors, the statement said.
Once the solution is commercially made available, users will be able to pay using an ingenious and cost-effective feature phone, extending the accessibility of offline payment functionalities to a wider population.
"Once this is commercially launched over the next few months, Nokia feature phone users in India will be able to access the digital rupee thanks to this collaboration, which will empower the Nokia feature phone users with this latest technology and strengthen our government's vision of inclusive digital economy for all," HMD Global vice president for India and APAC Ravi Kunwar said.