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Bill Gates 'Grand Challenge' for startups: Develop digital payment system on feature phones, take $50,000 home

BusinessToday.In     December 1, 2019

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation along with National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)and CII.CO have come together to launch a 'Grand Challenge' for startups and individuals worldwide to build payment solutions for feature phone users in India.

In India, more than half a billion people use feature phones, however, their phones lack  'instant digital payment' like services, which is applicable to smartphones.

For instance, smartphone users in India have Unified Payments Interface (UPI) app that facilitates immediate money transfer through mobile device round the clock.

Therefore, in order to help all the feature phone users with digital transactions, the NPCI, CII.CO and Bill Gates' foundation have collaborated and introduced 'Grand Challenge' to allow innovators to provide payment solutions on feature phones.


Any startup or an individual who will develop a UPI-based system on a feature phone will get a reward of $50,000 (Rs 35, 89,788.46) along with an opportunity to pilot the solution with NPCI.

The first runner-up will get a prize money of $30,000 (Rs 21, 51,295.43 )and the second runner-up will get $20,000 (14,28,587).

Individuals and enterprises can apply for this challenge till January 12, 2020.

The final winners will be declared on 14th March 2020.

The Grand Challenge was launched in Bangalore with a panel discussion titled 'Payments using Feature Phones: Opportunities and Challenges'.

Also read: UPI achieves double milestone of 1 billion transactions, over 100 million users in Oct; aims to go global soon

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