Considering the recent demonetization initiative by the government of India, ToneTag has introduced mobile payments through feature phones. The technology enables anyone with a standard phone to make cashless payments seamlessly without having to download an app or worrying about internet connectivity.
India is home to more than a billion active mobile phone subscriptions with an overall tele-density of 81.18% as of May 2016, according to TRAI. Mobile is the one technology that has permeated across all geographies and strata of the Indian society. Despite this the smartphone penetration in India was less than 30% in early 2016.
Most Indians living in tier II or tier III cities and villages in India have limited access to smartphone based services and mobile internet. Apart from that, according to RBI data, there are 665 million cardholders in India who are served by only 1.24 million POS terminals that accept card payments, majority of which are found in larger stores within urban India. In the wake of demonetization, therefore feature phone users in villages and rural areas are unable to avail digital payments, resulting in a severe cash crunch. There is an immediate need to solve this issue, through accessible solutions.
Though certain technologies such as USSD can be used to transfer funds between feature phones, the solution is not frictionless and there is a steep learning curve to perform these transactions which has affected adoption in India. Also, the digital payment companies have to ensure that this shift to cashless payment is not momentary as a result of demonetization but a long term behavioral shift and the user should not fall back to cash payments post the demonetization effect is normalized. To make digital payments mainstream, the entire experience of making digital payments should be better than paying by cash to bring user stickiness.
ToneTag is built on technology which is frictionless, interoperable and built on an open architecture that enables cashless payments to be made from feature phones. Now a cashless payment transaction can be as simple as making a telephone call, something all feature phones users are adept at doing. This means that small town and rural consumers will become part of the digital payment ecosystem by just dialing ToneTag toll free number 180030101887. They are able to deploy this technology to support the national agenda for financial inclusion and cashless payments.
Mohandas Pai, Vice chairman of Manipal group & a ToneTag investor said
This launch of an open platform to enable feature phone users to access the benefits of a cashless digital economy that’s being driven by our PM’s vision-driving financial inclusion for 70% of Indian phone users.
I think that ToneTag sound-based technology will enable consumers in small towns to go cashless with minimal digital literacy. This will also be a boon in rural India where there is a huge need for accessible and easy to use digital payments to replace cash usage. It is heartening that start-ups such as ToneTag will help bridge the digital divide and enhance financial inclusion among feature phone users.
Kumar Abhishek, CEO of ToneTag said
By enabling feature phones to pay, we are removing hardware costs and the steep learning curve many Indians had associated with mobile payments. With this accessible technology ToneTag is sure to include many into the digital financial ecosystem especially as demonetization has disrupted the formal cash economy.
How the ToneTag technology works
ToneTag’s breakthrough technology uses audio signals or ‘tone tags’ for data exchange between devices. Payment instructions can be transmitted, using a sound signal, through a traditional phone line, without any additional hardware or software requirements. This makes highly inter-operable cashless payments possible from any mobile phone to another phone or computing device.
A feature phone user just needs to call an IVR number and bring the phone close to the merchant’s ToneTag enabled phone or other computing device, that is enabled to accept payments. The merchant will transmit the billed amount and transaction details by sending an audio signal or ‘tone tag’ which is captured on the IVR server.
Security and Compliance
The customer’s unique mobile number serves as the first factor of authentication. The customer then enters a PIN from the dial pad on his/her feature phone, as a second factor of authentication, resulting in an easy and secure cashless payment transaction from a regular feature phone. Processing takes place through IMPS or existing IVR banking infrastructure in real-time. This makes ToneTag the fastest, easiest and most secure solution available in the market for cashless, digital payments, bridging the last mile in financial inclusion.
ToneTag is a sound based proximity communication provider that enables contactless proximity communication, location based services and customer engagement services among a multitude of other solutions. Backed by Reliance VC among a host of investors, ToneTag has enabled contactless, offline, proximity communication on any device through sound and their team continues to innovate and transform the way devices will communicate with each other in the near future. For more information, please visit ToneTag