IDEMIA, Airtel Payments Bank and HMD Global have partnered to expand the reach of offline central bank digital currency (CBDC)  payments in India.

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 (CBDC issued by the Reserve Bank of India) on feature phones and promoting financial inclusion. For the first time in the industry, an attempt is being made to bring CBDC payments on feature phones via an application interface.

IDEMIA Secure Offline CBDC Payment solution already works with a large variety of devices: smartphones, biometric cards, and plastic cards. In India, smartphone accessibility remains elusive for more than half of the population. This endeavor seeks to confront the obstacles associated with facilitating digital transactions to much wider consumers, particularly in areas with limited connectivity.

Under this collaboration, IDEMIA’s technology will offer an offline layer to ensure instant and secure transactions without the need for online validation. It 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 announcement brings all three organisations together IDEMIA’s CBDC technology with Airtel Payments Bank financial solution and Nokia feature phones to go further on financial inclusion. 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.

Commenting on the announcement, Amit Kakatikar, senior vice president, Payment Solutions, IDEMIA, said, “We are confident that this collaboration will allow us to further expand the reach of digital payments and be the pioneers in the development of acceptance of digital rupee in India. Our alliance with Nokia and Airtel Payment Bank is poised to provide valuable insights and contributions to the evolution of offline retail CBDC systems.”

Meanwhile, Ravi Kunwar, vice president, India and Asia and Pacific, HMD Global, said, “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.” 

Further, Prasad Routray, head, Corporate Business and Alliances, Airtel Payments Bank, 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 and contribute to India’s transition towards a digitally inclusive economy.” 

As the journey towards advancing digital payments in India continues, IDEMIA, Nokia feature phones, and Airtel Payment Bank remain resolute in their dedication to unlocking financial inclusion through offline payments, making the digital rupee available everywhere, at any time, and for everyone.