The mobile-first payment interface has gained 3 billion transactions since it launched in mid-2016. The payment system was built as a layer on top of the instant payment messaging system known as IMPS. The most remarkable characteristic of the system was the fact that it worked across banks and banking systems.
One of the parties instrumental in achieving this seamless rollout was the Mobile Payment Forum of India, which was set up as a joint initiative between the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology and IIT Madras in 2006.
The forum was integral towards ensuring interoperability and seamless use across the entire system. The input of the forum also brought about the mobile first approach of the UPI platform as a whole, creating an environment of quick adoption. Now, the next step towards reaching underbanked populations is multilingualism. To know more about the MPFI's take on this, Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Professor Gaurav Raina, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras, and Chairman, MPFI.
What is the need for developing multilingual operations in the country?
Payments is a relatively new use-case for the mobile phone. While payment solutions like UPI have picked up very rapidly in the country, there is still a long way to go before there is mass adoption of UPI. In adopting a new payment technology, consumers have an additional sense of comfort and trust, if the language to conduct the transaction is in their native language. Apart from comfort, consumers may not also be literate enough in other languages to conduct a payment transaction.
What is the role of emerging technologies such as AI in reaching the unbanked population?
A key motivation for opening a bank account is usually the need for financial services. The role of data science and AI may be utilised in identifying customers, and their needs, and then provide personalised financial services.
How is the MPFI planning to use its experience of developing interoperability standards to ensure the same in the multilingual rollout?
It has been suggested that a 24x7 help service is managed by a central agency, possibly an agency like IDRBT (Institute of Development of Research in Banking Technology) can manage such a service. That way every financial institution does not have to create its own multilingual help service.
What are the kind of guidelines and infrastructure to be implemented to allow for the move towards inclusivity?
Awareness of the various digital payment solutions, multilingual payment applications, customer support and grievance redressal in multiple Indian languages, increasing the number of women consumers, and using voice-based solutions are some of the ways that payment solutions can be more inclusive.
For awareness, MPFI will be aiming to make some simple videos in multiple languages that can be used by all the stakeholders. For customer support and grievance redressal in multiple languages, it has been suggested that a central agency takes on this role. For increasing the participation of women, one will have to have judicious advertising within the social and cultural context.
How will technologies such as voice-based recognition increase ease-of-use in mobile payments?
Today, to conduct a transaction quite a few steps need to be taken before one gets to the authentication part of the transaction. It will be a significant step towards hands-free transactions if identifying the beneficiary and the amount to be paid can be done via a voice-based solution.
What is the importance of accessibility in the mobile banking context?
One needs connectivity, which fortunately is on the rise. In fact, smartphone adoption and the adoption of wireless Internet is also rapidly on the rise. As these factors increase, it is imperative to make the mobile banking onboarding process and the mobile payment experience as seamless as possible.
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