While the rest of the world is going the smartphone way, two-thirds of the mobile devices sold in the Indian subcontinent are still feature phones. Two of the main reasons for the trend are financial inadequacy and illiteracy to afford and understand the technology respectively. This feature phones trend acts as a major deterrent in the Indian government's ambition to make in India into a digital economy where its citizens have minimum dependence on physical cash and carry out a majority of their transactions online. But, a Slovenian company named Margento might have just cracked the code for the Indian government's this problem.

Margento is an innovative global provider of powerful mobile transactions and payment solutions. At the core of their technology, is the ability to turn any mobile phone into an easy-to-use, convenient, and secure payment and transaction instrument. And, the company has now decided to bring the technology to India. Margento's technology will allow low-cost feature phones users in India to make mobile payments without internet. If and when the technology comes to India, it could pose a major threat to paytm's status quo of number one digital payments provider in the country.

The Slovenian company has joined hands with a Mohali-based company called Masterline Telebiz for the project. Founded in 1994, the company makes recharge cards and other telecom devices and solutions for mobile transactions and has catered to over 20 million mobile users in the world since its inception.

Margento’s patented Data Over Voice (DOV) solution makes it possible to send encrypted audio signals between two face-to-face phones to complete a payment. Margento solutions and services have been successfully implemented and utilized by many prominent financial institutions, mobile operators, retailers and other businesses worldwide.

Masterline will take on the duty of being the reseller of the Margento’s DOV technology products in India.

According to a recent report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market researcher IMRB International, the overall internet penetration in India stands at a disappointing 31 per cent. When this is combined with the feature phones trend in India, Margento’s DOV technology has the potential of becoming a huge success in the country.

In order to tie up with some banks in India, a team of Margento is coming down to India in August. In addition to Indian banks, the company is also engaged in talks with several e-commerce companies operating in the country to add to their cash-on-delivery payment.

Margento isn't the first company that would allow people to make payments through feature phones. Unstructured Supplementary Service Data or USSD already the service in India. All a user has to do is check account balance, generate mini-statements and transfer funds via mobile IDs allotted by banks or IFSC code or Aadhaar number. Similarly, even banks in India allow credit and debit card payments to be made through an interactive voice response feature where a merchant or the receiver is required to make a call.

The advantage that Margento’s DOV technology has over the aforementioned two technologies is that unlike them it doesn't require a user go through multiple steps to make one payment. A user just needs to dial a code once to make a payment through Margento. In fact, Margento's process is quite simple. The first step entails the sender and receiver of the payment dialling a short code on their phones followed by a pin to initiate a payment. The second step requires the receiver to add the amount, in case of any merchant payment. The third step entails an encrypted audio signal being generated on the sender's phone. The fourth steps sees the payment being completed when the two phones are planted face-to-face.

Once a bank in India agrees to adopts Margento’s DOV technology, its users will be able to purchase products and services, pay utility and other bills, recharge prepaid accounts, receive and use loyalty bonuses, purchase, send and redeem mobile gifts, coupons and tickets, and transfer money etc.

After the sudden demonetisation drive in India last year when the citizens of the country had to turn to alternative methods to quench their cash thirst, several companies and banks tried their hand at ran pilots to make payments through voice in India but no one has been able to taste success so far.

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