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RBI launches UPI payments on feature phones. Here’s how you can pay

Written by - Akshatha Sajumon

March 16, 2022 6 minutes


India is fast moving towards being a digital economy. Today the number of people that use the internet in India is approximately 825.30 million and is therefore ranked second only to China in this regard. The use of the internet has also given the country a big push to the digital economy which has been a long-term vision of the government of the country. The aim of the government is to gradually drive the economy towards a cashless economy and to ensure that the majority of the country uses the digital payments method. The introduction of UPI in India has been a driving force towards this vision. Now UPI has added another feather in its cap by introducing UPI payments on feature phones. 

Given below are the details of UPI ‘123PAY’ and how to make UPI payments through feature phones. 

What is the UPI payments system?

UPI is the abbreviation used for ‘Unified Payments Interface’ which is the indigenously developed payments portal and is regulated by NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India). It provides a single id or platform for the customers to link their multiple bank accounts to send or receive payments. The transactions can be carried out through a registered mobile number or a virtual payment address in the form of a registered UPI ID. it allows the users to make payments to merchants, transfer to other bank accounts, use for e-commerce payments, etc. 

What is the need for UPI ‘123PAY’ on feature phones?

The aim of launching UPI was to establish it as the primary payments option used by the citizens of the country to carry out their financial transactions. The demonetization drive of the government in 2016 gave a further push to the use of UPI across the country. It is estimated that in FY 22, transactions handled by UPI can be up to the tune of $1trillion, and in the month of February 2022 alone, the transactions handled through UPI were approximately Rs. 8 lakh crores.

However, the basic requirement for using UPI till today was having a smartphone to download the UPI app. Therefore, a majority of the Indian population, who do not have access to smartphones and use only feature phones (approximately 40 crores), were away from the benefits of UPI.

RBI had launched a USSD(Unstructured Supplementary Service Data Mode for feature phones. However, this service required the users to dial *99# and carry out their transactions by selecting a series of options on the menu. This process was not only quite cumbersome but also chargeable. 

To address this issue, RBI has launched the UPI ‘123PAY’ under which, users can avail the benefits of UPI even through a feature phone. Under this payments mode, users will be able to access all the features of UPI which are available on smartphones except the scan and pay option. The scan and pay option that is currently available as a feature for UPI is under work for UPI ‘123PAY’ and will be launched soon. 

How to use UPI payments on normal phones?

Users can use the UPI123PAY for various purposes or services like,

  1. Payments to friends and family
  2. Payments towards utility bills
  3. Recharge their FASTag accounts
  4. Recharge mobile phones or pay for mobile bills
  5. Check their account balances
  6. Set UPI PINS and change them multiple times
  7. Link the bank accounts to the UPI ID

The new payments system UPI 123PAY can be used on feature phones for any of the above-mentioned transactions through four available options. The process to make payments through UPI 123PAY is detailed below. 

  1. Through IVR

This is an Interactive Voice Response service where users can call the numbers that are provided by NPCI. The call on these numbers is made through a secured line and the transactions made are in real-time. 

  1. Through App

Payments through this option are made through the app that is offered on the feature phones. Users can undertake all the transactions that are available on similar UPI available for smartphones. However, as mentioned above, the scan and pay option is not available on the UPI 123PAY. 

  1. Through proximity sound-based system

Under this option, transactions will be carried out using the technology that is based on sound waves. This technology enables contact and networking thereby leading to contactless payments. 

  1. Through missed call system 

This option uses the missed call system to make payments. Under this option, the users can give a missed call to the notified number and receive a callback. Users can then authenticate the transaction by providing the UPI PIN for the transaction initiated by them. 

What is the UPI Pay number for digital payments?

The government has also provided a helpline facility for the users which can be used to clarify any issues or disputes. This service will be available 24×7 for the benefit of the users and is named ‘Digisaathi’. Users can access this service through the website ( or through the chatbox available on the website. Other ways of using the helpline service are by calling on the number 14431 or the toll-free number 1800 891 3333. 


UPI has become a very easy and preferred payments options for millions of users across India. The government has also made significant progress in making available UPI in countries outside India like Nepal and Bhutan and is in talks in this regard with other South-East Asian countries like Cambodia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, etc. This growing importance of UPI proves that the launch of UPI123PAY was long due and a step in the right direction. 


1. Can users make payments through UPI 123PAY without internet?

Yes. The launch of UPI 123PAY is to enable the use of UPI on feature phones and without the use of the internet.

2. Can a user link multiple bank accounts to UPI 123PAY?

Yes. like the UPI application available for smartphones, UPI123PAY will also let users connect multiple bank accounts to their UPI ID.

3. What is the helpline service launched by RBI along with UPI 123PAY?

RBI has also launched a helpline for any assistance regarding payments through UPI. This service is called ‘Digisaaathi’ and is available 24*7 through their website or chatbot on the website as well as through call on 14431 and toll-free number 1800 891 3333.

4. Does UPI 123PAY support the scan and pay option?

No. The scan and pay option is not yet available on the UPI 123PAY application. The government is working towards the same and is expected to launch it soon. 

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