IDEMIA, Airtel, and Nokia Collaborate for Offline CBDC Payments on Feature Phones

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IDEMIA, in partnership with Airtel Payments Bank and Nokia’s parent company, HMD Global, has unveiled an initiative to introduce an offline Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) payment application for feature phones in India. This collaboration aims to enhance the reach of offline CBDC payments, making it more accessible and convenient for users across the country.

IDEMIA, a prominent French identity security service provider, revealed this collaboration on September 6, marking a significant step toward promoting financial inclusion through the use of digital currency. The primary objective of this endeavour is to enable feature phone users to transact in Digital Rupees, and it represents the first attempt to implement CBDC payments on feature phones through an application interface.

Amit Kakatikar, Senior Vice President of Payment Solutions at IDEMIA, expressed confidence in the collaboration’s potential, stating, “We are confident that this collaboration will allow us to further expand the reach of digital payments and be the pioneers in the development of acceptance of digital rupee in India.” He emphasised the value of the alliance with Nokia and Airtel Payment Bank in shaping the future of offline retail CBDC systems.

Ravi Kunwar, Vice President for India & APAC at HMD Global, highlighted the impact of this collaboration on Nokia feature phone users, saying, “Once this is commercially launched over the next few months, Nokia feature phone users in India will be able to access the digital Rupee thanks to this collaboration, which will empower the Nokia feature phone users with this latest technology and strengthen our government’s vision of an inclusive digital economy for all.”

Prasad Routray, Head of Corporate Business & Alliances at Airtel Payments Bank, emphasised their commitment to advancing financial inclusion and India’s transition towards a digitally inclusive economy. He stated, “Our partnership with IDEMIA and Nokia is a testament to our unwavering commitment to drive financial inclusion in the country.”

The IDEMIA Secure Offline CBDC Payment solution, which is already compatible with a wide range of devices, including smartphones, biometric cards, and plastic cards, will play a pivotal role in this collaboration. It introduces an offline layer to ensure immediate and secure transactions without the need for online validation. This technology will not only work seamlessly with the digital Rupee in India but also with other decentralised or centralised solutions, whether token-based or account-based, developed by central banks or independent software vendors.

Once the solution is commercially launched, it will enable users to make payments conveniently using cost-effective feature phones, extending the reach of offline payment capabilities to a broader segment of the population. This initiative holds the promise of transforming the landscape of digital payments and financial inclusion in India.

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