When demonetisation was announced, it came with a lot of side-effects – some good and some bad. Good because e-wallets and digital payments started gaining more popularity, bad because there was a massive cash crunch across the country.
Keeping the ‘Digital India’ ideal in mind, it was the government’s idea to use Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and UPI. But they realised that terms like UPI and USSD weren’t very clear and easily understandable for people. This was when the need for a payment mechanism with a simple interface which could be used by all was felt. This need led to the launch of the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app on December 30, 2016, which has already witnessed over 15 million downloads.
When 27-year-old Nikhil Kumar, Head of Developer Ecosystem at India Stack was approached to build this application and asked how long it would take to build this payment app, he was confident it wouldn’t take more than 3 weeks.
Of the three weeks, the first week was entirely spent on conceptualising, designing and prototyping the app. Its development took the remaining two weeks. By 25th December, Nikhil’s team had the app ready even went to Delhi to demonstrate the app to different government departments like the NITI Aayog and the PMO, as reported by YourStory.
How does BHIM work?
BHIM was tailored to enable quick, safe, and dependable cashless payments through mobile phones. First one needs to register a bank account with BHIM and set a UPI PIN for it. The mobile number serves as a payment address, which largely simplifies the transaction process. The application is around 1.24 MB in size.
On opening the app, users are asked to send an SMS, register with their mobile number, set a four-digit password and choose the bank account. The BHIM app is available on both Android and iOS.
BHIM has taken on the likes of Paytm, MobiKwik, FreeCharge and all the other mobile payment apps which have gained traction after demonetisation. While launching the app, PM Modi made the first payment ever using the app to Khadiindia, a portal selling khadi apparel as well as other goods from the Khadi Gramodyog and the Khadi village industry.
When Nikhil recalled the incident, he found the PM tech-savvy and added that it took only five minutes for the PM to understand the features of the app, as reported by YourStory.