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Global Fintech Fest 2023: Day 3 Reflects on Hype vs. Reality

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Global Fintech Fest 2023: Day 3 Reflects on Hype vs. Reality
08 Sep 2023
4 min read

News Synopsis

As the curtains drew on the final day of India's largest fintech fest, Global Fintech Fest 2023, a sense of reflection settled in after the high-energy first two days. Attendees shifted their focus to networking, with fewer high-intensity sessions on the agenda.

Innovations and Metaverse in Focus

The exhibition section, which showcased an unusually high number of metaverse-related innovations, concluded its activities before 3:00 p.m. This signaled a fascinating exploration into the convergence of finance and the metaverse, though it left attendees wanting more.

A Successful Turnout

By all accounts, the fest was a resounding success, with organizers estimating an impressive footfall of around 75,000 attendees this year. This figure represents more than double the attendance of all three days compared to the previous year.

Additionally, the event witnessed increased participation from foreign fintech delegates, underscoring its growing international relevance.

The support and active involvement of the Reserve Bank of India and the government played a pivotal role in driving the fest's success. The excitement and anticipation were palpable, but they also gave rise to questions about how to turn the hype into reality.

UPI ATMs: Hype or Reality?

One of the most talked-about innovations at the fest was the UPI ATM. Hitachi Payments Services launched their white label ATMs, not with a card reader, but a screen displaying a dynamic QR code for cash withdrawals.

NCR Corporation, the other big ATM manufacturer, displayed their UPI ATMs in collaboration with some public sector banks. People were fascinated that one could hypothetically go to an ATM without their card and still withdraw money using the UPI apps on their phones.

However, as the reporter mentioned, this technology is not new. NPCI has been tinkering with UPI-enabled cardless withdrawals from ATMs for some time now, though banks have not been forthcoming with deployment.

Technically, any traditional ATM can be enabled with a software patch making it UPI friendly for withdrawals.

The bottom line is that the UPI ATM is not really an innovation. It is just a new way to use an existing technology.

The Buzz Around UPI ATMs

Outside the Jio World Convention Centre, one topic dominated discussions: UPI ATMs. Hitachi Payments Services introduced white-label ATMs with a unique twist—they displayed a dynamic QR code for cash withdrawals instead of relying on traditional card readers.

NCR Corporation, another major ATM manufacturer, showcased their UPI ATMs in collaboration with public sector banks. Attendees were intrigued by the concept of cardless ATM transactions using UPI apps on mobile devices.

Some fintech influencers harnessed this intrigue by creating viral videos at these ATMs. However, they omitted a crucial detail: this technology isn't entirely new. NPCI has been exploring UPI-enabled cardless ATM withdrawals for some time, though widespread deployment has been lacking. 

Conversational UPI Payments: A Promising Innovation

While the UPI ATM garnered attention, the real innovation to watch was NPCI's conversational UPI payments. This technology allows users to make payments using voice commands through phone calls or IoT devices like smart speakers, smartwatches, and smart TVs.

This advancement has the potential to make payments as effortless as asking a virtual assistant to change a song in your playlist. Plans are even underway to utilize your voice as a form of authentication.

Though technologies like near-field communication (NFC) and voice-based transactions have been around for years, they are experiencing a resurgence in the world of digital payments and fintech.

Looking Ahead to 2024

As the three-day festival came to a close, the fintech industry is likely buzzing with ideas and innovations. Despite its challenges, fintech remains India's best bet for a commanding position in the global financial revolution.

With anticipation, we await the return of Global Fintech Fest in 2024, hopefully with even more groundbreaking concepts.