OffWallet: Re-thinking digital wallets - transact money without internet
Back in 2016, when one my friends (who later become a co- founders of our recently formed startup BetaBuilds Technologies), filed a patent for the digital wallet solution, approach and methods that would make it possible to transact money offline i.e. without the need of the internet, she had a fair idea of the potential space this solution would cater to. Once in her village, she tried out one of the popular digital wallet solution, yet it failed her and then it was a moment that influenced her to come up with a solution that can help in such scenarios.
Even today, India is home to more than half billion feature phones. One third of the population are still do not have access to internet. The reality of cashless transaction in villages and sub-urban areas are less than 1%. In such cases imagining a digital cashless society is remains a dream without solving these challenges.
Even in modern cities in India like Bengaluru, the call drops, slow internet and zero internet scenarios are very common. The loading screen of apps are a familiar faces during peak times. In such cases also the cashless India concept remains a pipe dream without solving these.
In recent times, USSD based approach was followed to provide a backup as off line solutions in many popular solutions. However, remembering the codes and carrying out the transactions within the 120 seconds of session was not very comfortable for mostly elderly and mass with lower educational background. The experience of wallet gets broken the moment the app goes offline.
So at BetaBuilds, we started with these factors, and with an initial dip-stick studies conducted in rural areas of Odisha and some places in Bengaluru to understand the common problems.
We had one thing in mind. The solution should be simple and seamless. It should not break the experience. Finally after months of effort we reached a position to validate the concept technically and that too come up with a design that can have a seamless experience for the user with or without internet.
OffWallet, as we named it, can transact money both offline and online way. It uses encrypted SMS sequences to carryout transactions which is handled by the app itself. This approach and method for which we have a published patent that ensures a secure and yet a easy to use experience .
(Early concepts from 2016 showing the adding money experience. )
The uniqueness of OffWallet lies in the patent pending approach of managing transactions through the app that can read and send the SMS with encrypted blocks of tokens when internet is not available, to allow user to send or receive money in the seamless way without change in experience from the scenario of online transaction.
Here is a diagram that shows how OffWallet is better than USSD based approach:
The app manages the SMSs in the backend while the user is presented a interface to provide an experience similar to the online scenario while ensuring the security aspect while making sure that the data transaction can be handled within the limited character lengths allowed in SMS as well as enabling the App to read the cue to identify the correct sequence of the SMS coming.
OffWallet enables users by allowing them to send and receive payments via app managed SMS. The experience for the user to send money irrespective of the internet/network availability is seamless.
Who needs OffWallet?
The potential of OffWallet is multifaceted. OffWallet can be a single wallet solution. Also it can be a technology that can enable existing digital wallet solutions to allow transactions made without internet. This can also be a part of the solution for the banks, digital payment gateways and financial institutions.
We, at BetaBuilds would love to hear from you, in case you are interested in the solution or have any questions. We are open for partnerships as well as investments.
Feel free to ping. Will be happy to connect back.
(Originally published on LinkedIn on March 12, 2020 )