The services will be available in languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Bengali
The voice-based digital payments system to be expanded to other languages such as Gujarati, Marathi, and Punjabi in the near future
Within two months of its launch in March, VoiceSe onboarded more than 1 Lakh users and saw more than 2 lakh transactions on the platform
Months after its launch, ToneTag’s voice-based solution VoiceSe will now allow users to access UPI digital payments via feature phones in their own regional language.
As part of the launch, the services will be available in languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Bengali. The startup also plans to extend the service to Gujarati, Marathi, and Punjabi in the near future.
“In a bid to boost digitisation and enhance safe online transactions for feature phones, VoiceSe, in partnership with NSDL Payments Bank and NPCI, will allow India’s 40 crore feature phone users to access the payment services, making it accessible to an even larger part of the rural Indian audience,” said the startup in a statement.
Tonetag has also partnered with large public sector banks to provide UPI 123Pay services to its customers. The platform also said that it was collaborating with micro-finance institutions (MFIs) to address their collection problems directly over the phone.
Feature phone users can simply dial the designated IVR number and make financial transactions using voice as an input. The startup also says that its VoiceSe service enables users to make fund transfers, pay utility bills, enquire about account balance, recharge, among others.
Launched earlier this year in March, the startup onboarded more than 1 Lakh users on its platform within two months of the launch.
“In less than two months of the launch, we have onboarded over 1 Lakh users on the platform and witnessed more than 2 lakh transactions,” said ToneTag’s director of labs and cofounder Vivek Singh.
Founded in 2013 by Singh and Kumar Abhishek, ToneTag is a soundtech startup that largely offers audio-based authentication and proximity payment solutions catering to online and offline commerce segments. It also develops integrable software to deploy voice-based digital payment systems.
ToneTag has so far raised $13.2 Mn in funding and is backed by marquee investors such as Amazon, Mastercard, 3one4 Capital, Reliance Capital, among others.
The RBI Push
Earlier this year, the RBI launched its much-touted UPI 123Pay – a service that allows users to access a unified payments interface (UPI) directly on feature phones without the requirement of internet.
At the launch of the service, a small little company by the name of Naffa Innovations also delivered its presence. In a blink-and-miss appearance, a device was shown on the screen at the event that appears to have leveraged the UPI 123Pay ecosystem to offer digital payment services to users. What made the debut for the company was its retail pod – a sound-based tap-to-pay feature for feature phones.
That Naffa Innovations is commonly known as ToneTag. Since its inception, the startup has developed a host of products that use voice as an input to deliver online financial services.
The startup was part of the very first cohort of the RBI Sandbox for Feature Phone Payments. Sandboxes are testing environments whereby new or untested products can be run securely and safely. The year-long sandbox included other cohort members including Citycash, IND-e-Cash, BHIM Voice, and Eroute Technologies.
While Paytm which was also working on a similar technology ended trials with no consequential results, ToneTag managed to develop a working prototype and scaled it up.
The offline digital payments space is populated by a slew of players including PaySe, NFC-focused micropayments enabling platforms CityCash, among others.
The startup has so far deployed more than 1.5 Lakh mobile point of sale (POS) devices, 1.3 lakh Electronic Data Capture machines and 30,000 retail pods across the country.
According to a report, the global voice and speech recognition technology is expected to settle at around $9.4 Bn by the end of 2022. This number is further projected to grow to $28.1 Bn by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 24.4%.