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Challenges of implementing e payments in a country where 350m people still have no phones

Nandan Nilekani of Infosys and Aadhaar fame has been brought in to help the government of India accelerate the transition to e financial services in the aftermath of demonetization.

350 million with no phones and 350 million with feature phones is just the first problem. What happens when there is no signal, like in Chennai after the recent storm? The committee has a mega challenge ahead.

The committee is expected to meet again this week to look at how to approach those with limited access to technology. While India has 250 million smartphone users, there are about 350 million who only have feature phones while another 350 million don’t have a phone at all, Nilekani said.

For feature phone users, the committee recommends India’s existing retail e-payments app be adapted to technology that could be rolled out within weeks. That will be helped by lower charges, with the telecommunications regulator slashing the charges for transactions from 1.50 rupees to 0.50 rupees.

“Each category has to have a different strategy” said Nilekani.

Report.

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