[Watch] Odisha-Based Startup Comes Up With ‘OffWallet’ Payment; Know What It Is All About
Bhubaneswar: Imagine you are in a remote village with no access to the internet and lack cash. How will you make payment for any service or commodity? Well, digital payment can be an option! But, how can the transaction be completed without the internet?
An Odisha-based startup has the answer! It has come up with a technology that enables secured digital transactions without requiring the internet. The startup, ‘Beta Builds’, has developed the working prototype of the world’s first B2B offline App payment platform named ‘OffWallet.’ The startup is being spearheaded by Pratik Agarwal (Rourkela), Nirmesh Rajyaguru ( Mumbai) and Samir Kumar Dash (Rourkela).
In 2016, Pratik—who holds a masters degree in business administration from Symbiosis and has 14 years of experience in operations—was in his native village near Jharsuguda district of Odisha. During his stay there, he faced issues in making online payments. Even for making a mere phone call, he had to travel approximately 4 to 5 km to get proper network connectivity.
That’s when he discussed the problem with his friends Nirmesh and Samir. While Nirmesh has over 20 years of experience as a technocrat, Samir had done MBA after pursuing graduation in science with multiple patents in his name. Eventually, the trio laid the foundation for the innovation that made it possible to make payments without internet or requiring any hardware changes.
The trio put together, a disruptive technology that later in April 2021 became a Patent Granted solution, which not only made the financial transaction possible without the network but also provided an opportunity to bridge the digital divide across healthcare, agriculture, emergency response services, e-governance, logistics, real estate and many more areas.
“It is a middleware technology, which will reside in platforms like Google pay, Paytm or SBI’s Yono. When the user does any transaction through these applications, even if there is no internet, he or she will be able to carry out the transaction in the same way through our server. No data is shared or stored in our server,” said Pratik.
The technology is multi-faceted. For instance, it can be installed in multiple verticals like ArogyaSetu and other government applications. Before the team conceptualised and built the solution, they carried out a user-research among tier-3 and rural areas to understand the key challenges and issues being faced by the users in adopting digital payment services. This gave them the insights, that apart from the infrastructural issues such as the lack of internet services that would fuel the robust banking infrastructure for the rural population to take advantage of digital banking services, there were other socio-economic challenges, which manifested the causes of failure of SMS banking through lower adoption among masses.
But, how secure is the technology? “The authorization process happens end-to-end. We don’t store any data. Also, since there’s no internet involved the chances of hacking or phishing are minimum,” claimed Pratik. The startup has been recognised by Startup India and Startup Odisha,. It has been accelerated and incubated by Atal Incubation Centre, (AIC_Nalanda Institute of Technical Foundation), Bhubaneswar, Odisha. It has been certified by UNDP, India for contributing to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through OffWallet technology.
Recently, it became the winner in Payments Category at India Fintech Awards 2021 by NASSCOM. “We are presently bootstrapped. We are struggling for some grants that will help us scale up the research for feature phones. We are also looking for investments to scale up the technology and attain our first milestone of making a pilot project of 5 million users with a concurrency of 50 per cent,” added Pratik.
Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a framework allowing offline payments up to Rs 200 per transaction, subject to an overall limit of Rs 2,000 to push digital transactions in rural and semi-urban areas.