Voice banking hackathon to drive financial inclusion through Indian vernacular languages

Voice banking hackathon to drive financial inclusion through Indian vernacular languages

Chennai, 29th March 2023: Across the last few decades, technology has played a key enabler role in increasing banking penetration in India. However, with banking services even today offered primarily in English, individuals who may not be literate continue to face various hurdles. Further, there are limited solutions available for individuals with visual impairment or certain locomotive disabilities to access financial services. Focusing on solving this grassroots challenge at the heart of financial inclusion, IITM Research Park (IITMRP) and IITM Incubation Cell (IITMIC) have partnered with the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) to conduct a hackathon that aims to drive innovation in banking inclusion.

The event, called ‘Vaulter Voice,’ is focused on developing a solution that can perform basic banking transactions through voice commands in the Indian languages of Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu to start with, in addition to English. This initiative will primarily help the underbanked population in overcoming language barriers and people unable to use touch-based applications due to any disability, gain access to formal banking services.

Speaking on the outcome of the hackathon Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, President – IIT Madras Research Park, IITM Incubation Cell & RTBI, said, “About 85% of households in India have incomes less than ₹25000 per month. Digitally driven fintech has the transformative potential to reach these often-neglected sections of the population and help them manage their finances better. ‘Vaulter Voice’ is a unique opportunity to bring together young creative minds in tech to develop a solution that can benefit millions of Indians who are unable to enter the formal financial fold due to a majority of the banking services being available only in English.”

The hackathon challenge is being conducted with the help of technology resources developed by IITs as a part of the Bhashini group, for building a public platform for languages for the development of various services. The hackathon is also supported by a number of banks and associated financial institutions. The resultant innovation will be further scaled up across the country, expanding to other Indian languages as well.

“I strongly believe that consumer experience is the key to financial inclusion, which in turn can strengthen our economy at its very core. Delivering financial products and services through regional languages can expand reach significantly. In this context, I am excited to explore and implement innovations that come through the Vaulter Voice hackathon” said Rajesh Bansal, CEO, of Reserve Bank Innovation Hub.

The hackathon also ties into one of IITMRP and IITMIC’s ambitious 10X goals, to make India a leader in ‘Fintech for Inclusion’ with the vision of achieving sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth for the country. By working along with dedicated “Fintech for Inclusion” partners, the aim is to drive innovation with transformative potential in this sector.

Students, startups, and young working professionals across the country passionate about developing voice-based solutions that promote financial inclusion in India are encouraged to apply for the Hackathon. IITM Research Park will also potentially look at identifying, commercializing, and helping scale innovative solutions, under its “Fintech for Inclusion” initiative.