How a New Subset of Indian UPI Enables Offline Transactions

RBI (Reserve Bank of India) which is India’s central bank and a regulatory body responsible for the issue and supply of the Indian rupee and the regulation of the Indian banking system launched a service named 123PAY on 8th March 2022.

What is 123PAY? → 123PAY is a UPI for ‘Feature Phones’.

The framework for 123PAY system was released on 3rd Jan, 2022 by the RBI which is a system that would deal with “small value digital payments in offline mode”.

What is UPI?

UPI, which stands for “Unified Payments Interface” is a game changer in digital payments sector by India in India.

Launched in April 2016, UPI is an ‘instant real-time payment system’ that was developed by NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) which aims at facilitating inter-bank peer-to-peer and person-to-merchant transactions.

The reason for it being a game changer is it’s exponential growth year after year.

In all of 2021, more than 3800 crore UPI transactions amounting to Rs 73 lakh crore were conducted.”

And according to the current stats; in the month of Feb-2022, 304 banks live on UPI and 4,527.49 Million transactions took place in terms of volume which values to 8,26,843 Crores.

UPI has already become the largest mode of online payments in India, and the volume of transactions on UPI outpaces any card payments in the country by nearly eight times.

What is 123PAY?

123PAY is a subset of the UPI ecosystem that brings ease of payment to feature phones.

Feature phones are mobile phones that lack the advanced functionality of a smartphone. Launched on 8th March 2022 by RBI as a new UPI service, 123PAY will now be able to accommodate a large part of the population as there are currently 40 crore feature phone users in India.

Using 123PAY, users will no longer require a smartphone or an internet connection to make payments. It will allow the end-users to pay bills or send money using their feature phones. Users can expect transaction alerts and notifications using an SMS channel or email.

This mode of payment (offline) will bring digitalization in areas where the internet or telecom connectivity is poor or weak.

According to the framework press release, each transaction will be subjected to a limit of INR 200 (approx. 2.6 dollars) and an overall limit of ₹2000 (approx. 26 dollars)  for all transactions until balance in the account is replenished.

Ways of using 123PAY

There are 4 ways to make digital payments using UPI 123PAY:

  1. IVROne has to initiate a secure call from their phone to a pre-defined IVR number and will have to complete some UPI on-boarding formalities for him to start making transactions without the internet.
  2. ApplicationOne has to install an application using which several UPI functionalities will be available to him on the feature phone.
  3. Missed CallOne can easily make transactions via a simple missed call. Merchant outlets will be provided with contact numbers (like scanners for UPI) and a user has to give a missed call to the number and he will immediately have an incoming call on their feature phone to perform authentication for the transaction.
  4. Proximity Sound-BasedThis will use sound waves to enable contactless, offline, and proximity data communication on any device.

💸✨ Cheers to another great cashless move after UPI!

A detailed insight on UPI and the revolution of digital payments sector in India can be found here.