VoicePay: Enabling the next billion users to transact with just a phone call
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Voice has always been one of humanity’s most powerful tools, why not let it do payments! VoicePay is a mobile payment app that helps users transact over a phone call without depending on internet connectivity. It also supports voice as input interface, solving both adoption and technical challenges associated with mobile payments.
Necessity, they say, is the mother of all inventions. With the demonetization of high-value currency notes in November 2016, India had everyone scrambling towards digital payments. However, technical and adoption challenges became major roadblocks for many people.
So what are these technical and adoption challenges?
The most faced technical issue while doing a digital transaction is low or no data/internet connectivity to complete transactions. Firaq, founder of VoicePay, was on a trip to Goa where he further validated his idea, as he saw that while most stores and shops had QR codes/POS Machines and were open to different payment options, these options often did not work. The reason? No internet connectivity.
The fact that phone calls were unaffected formed the basis of VoicePay. Though the adoption of the internet and data is faster and stronger today, there still is a problem with bandwidth. In most developing countries, connectivity fluctuation is high, but making a call isn’t a problem, and VoicePay works over a phone call network.
The next biggest problem to be addressed was the adoption challenge. As we know, millions of mobile users have never transacted online. A mobile application with a complicated menu is difficult for people who lack digital skills and literacy. Native languages act as a barrier in the adoption of payments, VoicePay solves this problem by making users use their voice in their native language and make payments using a simple phone call, a 150-year-old method! The app is completely inclusive as anyone who has access to a smartphone knows how to make a basic phone call.
VoicePay raised a pre-seed round from Deshpande Startups and has won two grant awards from the government of Karnataka and the government of Maharashtra. VoicePay extends services as a B2B Technology provider for Banks/Fintechs.
Why did you join Celo Camp and choose to build on Celo?
We had successfully implemented domestic payments on VoicePay, and we were looking for a payments infrastructure to do cross border payments. After hearing about Celo’s global payments infrastructure built for mobile and decentralized phone verification protocol, we wanted to join Celo Camp and build on Celo. With Celo as a payment partner, our solution can be catered to anyone who has access to a mobile device.
What did you build during camp?
During Celo Camp, we worked on remittance as a use-case, we integrated Celo with VoicePay and we executed a proof of concept by using Celo’s stablecoins. A cross border payment was executed in a 30 second phone call between Denmark and India - which itself is record breaking! The overall cost was few fractions compared to traditional ways of cross border payments.
VoicePay recently onboarded one of the largest private banks in India for co-creation. Post integration, VoicePay can be used at more than 5 million merchant outlets and users can also do direct P2P and QR Code transactions and through B2B partnerships. VoicePay's target is to reach 100 million users in the next 2-3 years and is currently exploring the Celo ecosystem to be its payment processing technology for cross border payments.
Team VoicePay would like to thank Jason, Rachel, Alon and Elad for this priceless experience, well-organized and executed camp!
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Author: Novman, Operations and Partnerships, VoicePay (Microchip Payments Pvt Ltd (India))