UPI is now doing a billion transactions per month in India. Less than a million of these are via feature phones

India is home to half a billion feature phone users. A majority of these users are among the low-income segments and aren't being served by the plethora of smartphone based UPI apps. For this segment, feature phones are a greater value for money than lower end smartphones. Usually with fragile screens, poor battery life and slow processing systems, cheaper smartphones are not suited for their lifestyle needs. Unfriendly user interfaces and security related concerns also hinder these users from transacting via their smartphones.


The program aims at identifying promising payment solutions for feature phone users, ensuring

  • Simplified user onboarding
  • Enhanced transaction experience
  • Highest security standards
  • Automated dispute resolution


  • Real-time issue resolution mechanisms
  • Improved payment interfaces and workflows
  • Integrated bill payment features
  • Enhanced P2P and merchant payment solutions
  • Enhanced security with end-to-end encryption
  • Any other solution relevant for feature phone users


The rewards include monetary and non-monetary support to the top innovations emerging from this Grand Challenge.

  • Opportunity to pilot the solution with NPCI
  • First Prize: USD 50,000
  • Second Prize: USD 30,000
  • Third Prize: USD 20,000
  • Acceleration support from CIIE.CO’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative
21st Nov. 2019

Call for Applications open

12th Jan, 2020

Applications closed

11th Feb, 2020

Sandbox introduction event @NPCI

The shortlisted startups will be provided access to NPCI APIs for them to understand the technical requirements and start building their solutions.

Feb – March 2020

Continuous technical support to shortlisted startups

The startups would be provided with mentoring support from experts at NPCI to help them streamline their solution

14th Mar, 2020

Final showcase, winner selection and closing ceremony


Who can apply?

This is a global challenge open for individuals and enterprises offering technology solutions in payments. It is especially suited for enterprises (including startups) with ready solutions that can be piloted with limited additional development and integration efforts. However, all relevant and impactful solutions will be considered irrespective of the stage.

What is the format of the program?

Applications will be received only through the online process. CIIE.CO & NPCI will shortlist the most promising solutions for further support. Wherever needed, these solutions will be provided with access to NPCI sandbox and technical support so that demo-able products can be created. The winners will be selected from the shortlist based on the product pitch and demos towards the end of the program.

Do I get access to seed funding through the program?

Selected startups will have the opportunity to pitch to the CIIE.CO team during the program. CIIE.CO can also facilitate introductions to other investors on a case to case basis. Winners will be evaluated for further acceleration / investment support via the Bharat Inclusion Initiative.


Applications closed on 12th January 2020.