Sound-wave technology is working towards financial inclusion by enabling even feature phones to make digital payments. Being a software element, it can be easily integrated into existing hardware, making it cost effective. With its futuristic solution, sound-wave technology is inclusive and can help developing countries as well as technologically advanced nations to bridge all economies towards a cashless ecosystem.

ToneTag has launched the first-of-its-kind soundwave-based payments service in India which uses sound waves to enable digital payments. This technology works offline and supports both smartphones and feature phones, along with card-swipe machines, etc.A sound is an audible wave of vibrations that travel through the air. This form of energy, similar to electricity and light, has found applications across an array of scientific discoveries and inventions across sectors.

This technology uses the phone’s speaker and microphone as the medium to communicate with the PoS to make payments. This is similar to how a Bluetooth device requires Bluetooth hardware, WiFi needs a router, and NFC requires two NFC devices, to name a few.It is basically a software that can be installed in any merchant apps that facilitate digital payments. Using the merchant app, the consumers can click the payment icon, on which the merchant receives a pop-up to accept the payment. This is done using soundwaves.

It is similar to other modes of digital payments in which a consumer can identify a merchant by their phone number or barcode. Except that in ToneTag, the merchant emits his/her identity through sound waves, and a consumer gets a pop-up for the transaction to take place. The transaction is completed within a couple of seconds.

The technology also works with card swiping machines and parking machines. Telcos such as Airtel, e-wallets like ICICI Pocket, YES Bank, digital wallets like Freecharge and Mobikwik, retailers like Shoppers Stop, along with toll plazas and parking operators, have already started using ToneTag’s sound wave-based digital payments.

It charges a licence fee for performing the sound wave-based payments, while merchants are charged a fee on every transaction.

Sound-wave technology is quickly gaining traction in the retail sector and the buzz is not expected to die down any time soon. The positive impacts of this technology are endless. While customers receive a quick and hassle-free way of making payments, retailers can end their cash dependency in the most seamless manner.

Apart from its simplicity, sound-wave technology can also integrate messages in the broadcast feed from television, radio and digital signages. Audiences consuming the broadcast with the network’s app can receive real-time notifications, promotions, offers, CTA and surveys directly on their phones.

While every aspect of sound-wave is perfectly suited to the needs of the Indian customer, the only challenge now is a lack of awareness. Once customers are aware of such a universally-acceptable technology, it will give direction as well as momentum to startups working in this space.

These companies need the guidance and support of the ecosystem and government to be able to achieve the goal of a digital ecosystem and reduce cash usage in the country.

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