April 14, 2021 10:52 pm

DigiVAARTA: Enabling government dialogue with citizens

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“DigiVAARTA is a welcome addition to the government’s drive to promote adoption and awareness on digital payments. An effective multi-channel citizen engagement programme that can run on both feature phone and smartphone users, DigiVAARTA is an easy way to educate citizens on the use of digital tools for banking and payments,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). He was speaking at the inauguration of the NIC Centre of Excellence for Data Analytics in Delhi, which also saw the launch of the initial phase of the DigiVAARTA programme in Delhi and is focussed on increasing awareness on digital payments.

The technology underlying the multi-channel engagement programme is SAMWAD – a platform for intuitive and interactive communication – supported by Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion (CDFI). Developed with an objective to increase awareness and familiarity of individuals on various financial products and services and to educate the unbanked and under-banked individuals, SAMWAD provides enabling engagement across multiple channels in the form of stories, images and videos in any chosen language.

The learnings and insights from research studies commissioned by CDFI resulted in an of a larger engagement tool that could be used by the government to communicate with the citizens of the country. It is this that led to DigiVAARTA, which is customized and re-branded form of SAMWAD that is being deployed for MeiTY by CDFI.

The initial phase of DIGIVAARTA will help and promote learning in digital payments and empower users to draw content on topics as per their choice. DIGIVAARTA will initially be in Hindi and English languages and will engage with users through multiple channels – over Mobile App, SMS and OBD (Outbound Dialler).

To operationalise this programme, besides Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and CDFI, National Informatics Centre (NIC) has been a key stakeholder and has helped set-up, host and liaise with regulatory and service providers.

Krishnan Dharmarajan, Executive Director, CDFI said, “We learnt from a pilot in rural Karnataka, that while the poor were happy to engage on the platform, they were worried about the money that was getting deducted as SMS charges. So MeitY decided that such exchanges be kept toll-free so that people could engage, learn and get empowered at zero cost.”

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