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Feature Phones Embrace the Digital Rupee with IDEMIA, Airtel, and Nokia

On September 6, IDEMIA, a French identity security service provider, announced a groundbreaking collaboration with Airtel Payments Bank and Nokia’s parent company, HMD Global. Their mission: to introduce an offline Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) payment application designed for feature phones.

This innovative partnership aims to expand the accessibility of offline CBDC payments across India, particularly targeting feature phone users. The initiative seeks to empower financial inclusion by enabling the use of the Digital Rupee on feature phones, representing a pioneering effort in bringing CBDC payments to feature phones through a dedicated application interface.

Amit Kakatikar, SVP Payment Solutions at IDEMIA, expressed confidence in the collaboration’s potential to broaden the scope of digital payments and establish a foundation for the adoption of the digital Rupee in India. He stated, “Our alliance with Nokia and Airtel Payment Bank is poised to provide valuable insights and contributions to the evolution of offline retail CBDC systems.”

Ravi Kunwar, VP- India & APAC at HMD Global, highlighted the transformative impact of this endeavor on Nokia feature phone users in India, aligning with the government’s vision of an inclusive digital economy. He added that this collaboration would empower users with the latest technology and promote financial inclusion.

Prasad Routray, Head of Corporate Business & Alliances at Airtel Payments Bank, emphasized their unwavering commitment to advancing financial inclusion in India. He believes that once the solution receives the necessary approvals and moves from the design phase to commercial launch, it will play a pivotal role in enhancing financial service accessibility, contributing to India’s digital inclusivity goals.

IDEMIA’s Secure Offline CBDC Payment solution is versatile, compatible with various devices, including smartphones, biometric cards, and plastic cards. Through this collaboration, IDEMIA’s technology will introduce an offline layer, ensuring instant and secure transactions without the need for online validation. It will work seamlessly with the digital Rupee in India and other solutions, whether decentralized or centralized, token or account-based, developed by central banks or independent software vendors.