This multi-stakeholder partnership is designed to scale digital payments systems in India, catalyzing an exponential increase in cashless payments in select geographic locations.
These locations will be selected based on criteria such as smartphone penetration, the local economy, and administrative feasibility.
This launch marks the next phase of partnership between USAID and India’s Ministry of Finance to help catalyze the rapid adoption of digital payments in India as a step toward achieving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of universal financial inclusion to end “economic untouchability” in India.
As noted by the White House during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United States in June, “the United States and India recognize the importance of efforts to expand financial inclusion as a means to fostering inclusive economic growth.”
Housed within the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) and supported through USAID’s Mobile Solutions Technical Assistance and Research (mSTAR) program with FHI360, Catalyst will combine new technology, business models, and institutional innovations to help merchants and consumers, in particular low-income and disadvantaged populations, participate in India’s growing digital economy.
Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, USAID Mission Director to India, lauded India’s efforts to expand financial inclusion and build an inclusive digital economy.
“India is at the forefront of global efforts to digitize economies and create new economic opportunities that extend to hard-to-reach populations. Catalyst will support these efforts by focusing on the challenge of making everyday purchases cashless,” Addleton said.
Badal Malick, most recently Vice President and Head of Omnichannel at India’s leading online marketplace Snapdeal, has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst. Alok Gupta, former Chief Operating Officer at the World Resources Institute’s Sustainable Cities program, who was a member of the original Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) team that developed and implemented Aadhaar, has been appointed Director of Project Incubation.
Speaking about Catalyst, Badal Malick said, “Catalyst’s mission is to solve multiple coordination problems that have blocked the penetration of digital payments among merchants and low-income consumers. We look forward to creating a sustainable and replicable model that will enable underserved populations to harness the full benefits of recently introduced, tectonic shifts in technology and policy in the digital payments space.”