RBI Launches UPI Payment For Feature Phones

Crores of feature phone users will now be able to make digital payments, the RBI said. The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) feature was only available to smartphones till now.
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das | Image: Screengrab from video posted on Twitter by ReserveBankOfIndia

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das | Image: Screengrab from video posted on Twitter by ReserveBankOfIndia

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das on Tuesday launched UPI based payment feature named ‘UPI123Pay’ that will enable feature phones to make digital payments.

Taking to twitter, the central bank of India wrote, “Watch out for the launch of UPI for feature phones - UPI123Pay and 24*7 helpline for digital payments - DigiSaathi by RBI Governor at 12 noon on March 08, 2022.”

Crores of feature phone users will now be able to make digital payments, the RBI said. The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) feature was only available to smartphones till now.

The RBI Governor had said in December last year that it was important to bring the feature phone users to mainstream digital payments.

RBI Governor Das said that the move will help to deepen financial penetration with feature phone users also on the mainstream payment platform.

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He said, “These products, coupled with other complementary 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.”

Although feature phone users had the National Unified USSD Platform (NUUP) to avail basic payment services using the shortcode *99# until now, they had limited access to innovative payment products.

Feature phones are a type of mobile phones that typically work on press-button based inputs and small non-touch display. They do not incorporate heavy operating systems like Google’s android or Apple’s iOS and offer limited features as compared to smartphones.

According to data from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), India has a huge population of mobile phone users of about 118 crores. Of this, a significant number of people still use feature phones. According to data from statistics site Statista, in July 2021, about 74 crore users in India had smartphones.

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RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das speaking at the launch of UPI123Pay.

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