ToneTag, napID, TrustCheckr among winners of RBI's first-ever global fintech hackathon

The Reserve Bank of India launched its first global hackathon in November last year, themed "Smarter Digital Payments". The competition received 363 proposals.
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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) declared Tonetag, napID Cybersec, and TrustCheckr winners across four categories at its first-ever global hackathon, HaRBInger 2021.

The theme of the hackathon, "Smarter Digital Payments", was aimed at identifying solutions that have the potential to enhance ease of payments and user experience, make digital payments accessible to the underserved, and add a layer of security for digital transactions.

The central bank laid our four problem statements for applicants to work on:

  • Innovative, easy-to-use, non-mobile digital payment solutions for converting small-ticket cash transactions to digital mode: Won by India's ToneTag, with US-based Extolabs bagging the 'runner-up' award.
  • Alternate authentication mechanism for digital payments: Won by India's napID Cybersec, with US-based neoEYED, Inc and India's Sperotel Tech as joint runners-up.
  • Context-based retail payments to remove the physical act of payment: Won by ToneTag.
  • Social Media Analysis and Monitoring tool for detection of digital payment fraud and disruption: Won by India's TrustCheckr, with joint-runners up bagged by Ezetap and Lalit Kumar Pagaria.
The hackathon received 363 proposals from teams within India, and 22 from countries such as the US, UK, Sweden, Singapore, the Philippines and Israel.

The finalists were put through three rounds: shortlisting of proposals, solution development, and final evaluation.

The jury evaluated and selected the winners and runners-up based on parameters including user experience, security, ease of implementation, innovation, and technology.

"These products have the potential for wider adoption and can be integrated with the existing payment infrastructure subject to compliance with applicable regulatory requirements," the RBI said in a press release announcing the results of the hackathon.

Why the announcement is noteworthy

The RBI has been pushing the Government of India's mandate to promote financial technology in the country, especially in areas where it encourages financial inclusion and serving the underserved. In recent times, the RBI has invited fintech startups to work on solutions such as offline payments in collaboration with government bodies and mentors, to facilitate digital payments for people who don't have access to a smartphone or good data connectivity.

The problem statements are very telling of the RBI's focus on the fintech sector too. Security has been an important issue, especially with the rampant rise of fraudulent apps and instances of financial malfeasance.

ToneTag, which enables payments based on sound wave technology and NFCs, could play a big role in helping the central bank realise its dream to enable offline digital payments (including UPI123) to fruition.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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