Home / News / India /  37,000 feature phone users joined UPI service since launch on March 8: Govt
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Over 37,000 users took benefit of digital payment services meant for feature phones, totalling 21,833 successful transactions since its launch on March 8, 2022, Minister of State for Finance Bhagwat K Karad said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

The UPI123 Pay service is meant for feature phones, which can be used by people without the internet. The service is expected to revolutionise digital payments in India as it allows wider reach. The minister said the RBI has taken many key steps to expand the UPI reach outside of India.

NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which promotes the UPI service outside India.

Apart from India, BHIM UPI QR has gained acceptance in Singapore (March 2020), Bhutan (July 2021), and recently with partners in UAE and Nepal (February 2022). The minister said Covid-induced travel curbs have affected UPI's use overseas.

How UPI will work on feature phones:-

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on March 10 introduced UPI123Pay, a new system for digital payments using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). This is meant for feature phones, and will work without internet. 

How UPI Lite works:-

At the moment, payments made through UPI on smartphones depend on the availability of Internet, cameras, and more. That may not always be the case for feature  phone  users, and  UPI123Pay aims to solve that problem by offering payments via interactive voice response (IVR) numbers, feature phone apps, missed calls, and sound-based payments. RBI also announced the roll-out of a 24x7 helpline for digital payments, which it calls DigiSaathi. The entire infrastructure is supposed to help bring digital payments to the large section of Indian mobile phone users who still carry feature phones.

How many feature phone users are there?

According to August 2021 data from Counterpoint Research, India had a considerable installed base of 320 million feature phone users. In comparison, a February report by Deloitte said the country had around 750 million smartphone users, out of a total of 1.2 billion mobile phone subscribers in 2021.

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