RBI Introduces 123PAY: UPI Payment System for Basic Feature Phones, No Smartphone Needed


In a groundbreaking move to promote digitization and enhance the safety of online transactions, Governor Shaktikanta Das of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) unveiled a new unique payments interface (UPI) specifically designed for feature phones. The new UPI platform, named ‘123PAY,’ aims to cater to India’s 40 crore feature phone users, opening up access to digital payment services previously limited to smartphone users.

At a special event hosted by the RBI, Governor Das also introduced a digital payments helpline called ‘DigiSaathi,’ emphasizing the inclusion of individuals from lower socioeconomic strata, especially in rural areas. The implementation of UPI for feature phones is expected to support the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in achieving its target of processing a billion transactions per day.

Governor Das highlighted that the UPI platform has witnessed a significant increase in digital transactions, primarily driven by smartphone users. The new UPI for feature phones, ‘123Pay,’ offers four distinct options, including app-based functionality, missed call transactions, interactive voice response (IVR), and proximity sound-based payments.

Industry experts and leaders have welcomed the initiative, recognizing its potential to bridge the digital divide and facilitate wider adoption of cashless payments, particularly among rural and low-income populations. The move is viewed as a game-changer in the digital payments landscape, extending the reach of digital services to feature phone users and empowering a larger segment of the population to participate in UPI transactions.

Overall, the introduction of UPI for feature phones is expected to drive financial inclusion, boost digital penetration in underserved areas, and contribute to the country’s transition towards a less-cash economy. The move has been hailed as a significant step towards democratizing digital payments and fostering financial empowerment across diverse segments of society.

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