As per the recent development of events, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its latest move, has announced that feature phone users will very soon be able to make UPI payments. The announcement came earlier this week and was made by the RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das stating that digital payments will be allowed for feature payments. In the announcement, it was also stated that the transaction limit on UPI payment will soon be raised to Rs 5 lakhs from the current limit of Rs 2 lakhs for RBI’s Retail Direct Scheme. It is to be noted that feature phones unlike smartphones are used for only basic functions such as voice calls and text messages.
The Move to Strengthen the Digital Payment System
RBI Governor informed that UPI payment is the single largest method of payment in the country when it comes to volume of transactions which suggest that the method is widely accepted in the country especially for small value payments. Das further announced three proposals that will expand the digital payment system in the country and will be accessible to broader sections of society. The first proposal was to make it accessible for feature phone users to make UPI payments.
The second proposal suggested the use of a mechanism of on-device wallets on UPI wallets that would result in a simpler process flow for small value transactions. The third proposal, as mentioned above was to increase the transaction limit on UPI payments for the Retail Direct Scheme for investment in G-secs and Initial Public Offering (IPO) applications from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
It is to be noted that currently, there are no applications that can support UPI payments in feature phones. Data from telecom regulator TRAI suggests that there are over 300 million feature phone users in India. In another statistical report from NPCI for the month of November suggests that UPI payments for the first time ever crossed the $100 billion value mark. Thus, the inclusion of feature phone users under the UPI payment system will further strengthen India’s digital payment system. As of now the only way for feature phone users to make payment is via the National Unified USSD Platform (NUUP) where users are required to dial *99# and make transactions through an interactive menu displayed on their mobile phones and the method hasn’t been popular due to its complexity.