CIIE.CO, BMGF, NPCI launch Grand Challenge to enable digital payments for feature phones

Creative solutions that help feature phones use digital payments stand a chance to win cash prizes of $1,00,000 and the opportunity to pilot them with NPCI.

29th Nov 2019
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CIIE.CO, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have come together to launch a Grand Challenge to bring innovators from around the world to submit ideas and solutions that can enable feature phone users in India to transact easily and securely.


According to a statement, the challenge seeks solutions that are customised for feature phones with simplified self-onboarding of users, enhanced user experience, highest security standards, and automated dispute resolution mechanisms.


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Priyanka Chopra, COO, CIIE.CO said,


“In order to achieve India’s vision of a cash-lite economy, it is critical to foster digital payments amongst the large and growing base of feature phone users. In line with our mission of catalysing tough spaces through technology enabled interventions, we are excited to partner with BMGF and NPCI to launch a Grand Challenge to surface and scale promising innovations in the domain.”


The Grand Challenge was launched in Bangalore with a panel discussion titled ‘Payments using Feature Phones: Opportunities and Challenges’. The panel, moderated by Sanjay Jain of CIIE.CO, also included Sunil Kulkarni of Oxigen, and Gaurav Raina of the Mobile Payment Forum of India.


The panel discussed challenges faced by the existing smartphone-based payment systems in the country and the need for a robust and accessible solution to bring secure mobile payments to the masses.


Pawan Bakhshi, India Lead, Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said “The poor and rural communities have not yet significantly adopted digital financial services since most of them use feature-phones. We need cutting-edge financial services like UPI to be enabled on feature phones in a safe and secure way. The efforts made to include everyone through the current digital payment systems are encouraging. Grand Challenges initiative that will enable payments from feature phones is a really exciting prospect. The solution will foster a diverse ecosystem that will include and benefit everyone”.


Creative solutions that empower payment using feature phones stand a chance to win cash prizes of $1,00,000 in addition to the opportunity of piloting these solutions with NPCI.


Winning solutions will also receive support from CIIE.CO’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative across incubation, acceleration, and seed-funding to innovators leveraging technology to build inclusive businesses.


Applications will be open until January 12, 2020.



(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)




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