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3 startups win $100,000-contest to offer digital payments on feature phones

Gupshup, Minkville and Tonetag will work with NPCI and also get support from CIIE.CO.

May 13, 2020 / 06:08 PM IST

Three startups have won a $100,000 prize to create a feature-phone-based digital payments solution in a challenge hosted by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), CIIE.CO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

While Gupshup won the first prize and will receive $50,000 in cash. Minkville finished second and will get $20,000. A sum of $10,000 will go to Tonetag, the second runners-up.

“We believe once feature phones are equipped with the latest technology for payments, the country would be witnessing redefined customers’ behaviour towards digital payments,” NPCI chief operating officer Praveena Rai said.

The aim of the contest was to look for the next-generation tech solution that can help feature-phone users adopt digital payments.

The idea is to take digital payments to around 500 million Indians. Currently, UPI is supported only on smartphones and the number of users could be around 100 million.


Gupshup uses encrypted SMS to enable UPI payments through BillPay SMS, QR Codes or contact lists of phones.

Minkville runs a missed-call-based payments solution and Tonetag allows sound-based payments across any form of device.

Along with the case, these startups will get a chance to work on a pilot project with NPCI.

They will also receive support from CIIE.CO’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative which offers incubation, acceleration and seed funding to early-stage startups.

At present, NPCI runs an SMS-based payment mechanism USSD but that has not been able to scale beyond a certain level.
Moneycontrol News
first published: May 13, 2020 06:08 pm

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