Airtel Payments Bank and partners target mobile financial inclusion

13 September 2023

IDEMIA has partnered with Airtel Payments Bank, which serves more than 40 million customers through its digital platform and a retail-based distribution network, and HMD Global, the exclusive licensee of the Nokia brand for phones, tablets, and accessories, to expand the reach of offline CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) payments in India.

The partners plan to work together to introduce an advanced offline payment system over the next few months that will facilitate the use of the digital rupee (a CBDC issued by the Reserve Bank of India) on feature phones and thus promote financial inclusion. For the first time in the industry, the partners say, an attempt is being made to bring CBDC payments to feature phones via an application interface.

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

Through 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, decentralized or centralized, token or account-based, developed in-house by a central bank or independent software vendors.

Once the solution is made commercially available, users will be able to pay using a cost-effective feature phone extending the accessibility of offline payment functionalities to a wider population.