Interview with Kumar Abhishek, Founder & CEO, ToneTag

Q1. Please tell us about your company?

ToneTag was founded in Sep’2013 by Kumar Abhishek and Vivek Kumar Singh.

ToneTag is driven to realize mobile payments and revolutionize the payment ecosystem. Utilizing sound waves, we enable offline, proximity communication and contactless payments on any device. Our technology is currently being deployed at various locations in India and around the world.

This sound waves based technology offers contactless and cashless payments for all. With ToneTag, anyone with any device, even feature phones with or without the internet, can pay contactless, and the payment can be accepted by any device.

TomeTag software algorithm (SDK) encodes data into sound waves which could be transmitted through any device.. The only requirement for mobile payments through ToneTag is the integration of the ToneTag proprietary SDK on the merchant (EDC, POS, Phone) and customer (Mobile banking, wallet, payment apps) side.

Once integrated, the customer can make payments using any payment instrument such as mobile wallets, credit/debit cards, bank account, supported loyalty cards etc. The technology is highly interoperable, working on most existing infrastructure. The ability to pay in-app through phone ensures a completely frictionless payment and shopping experience.

Q2.  What solutions are you providing?

ToneTag is completely platform and hardware independent and hence highly scalable or Tag Payment.

This sound waves based technology offers contactless and cashless payments for all. With ToneTag, anyone with any device, even feature phones with or without the internet, can pay contactless, and the payment can be accepted by any device.

ToneTag provides multiple and unique solutions for Issuers, Acquirers, Banks, Retailers, Mobility.

ToneTag supports a plethora of use cases, as it is completely interoperable and platform independent. Some of the use cases enabled by ToneTag technology are:

Payment on Delivery
Feature phone payments
In-store payments
Locate, Engage and Pay solution for Retail
Peer-to- Peer Payments
Invisible Payment
Cardless cash withdrawal from ATM’s
Cashless payment at Parking and Toll plaza
Pick & Go solution for Retail, enabling seamless shopping experience

Q3. Mobile payments are growing rapidly. What future do you foresee for digital payments?

Mobile payments can bring millions of people into the financial world like never before. Whether it’s the ability to transfer money directly to friends and family in remote locations, or businesses being given new ways to accept payments, there is huge scope for mobile to drive real social and economic change around the world.

India has 25 crore families and close to 50 crore people earn in cash. Amongst the cash-earning customers, more than 30 crores are new bank account customers, mostly PMJDY accounts, enrolled through a unique KYC & authentication infrastructure of Aadhaar. And the increasingly large percentage of the customer, close to 20 crores right now and expected to be 60 crores by 2020, amongst them equipped with smartphones. Also, we expect that some amongst the target customer segment, 50 crores today, will move to earn and spend electronically, however, there will be others who will continue to earn in cash. It is extremely important to ensure that customer earning in cash, which is about 80% of the working population in India today, starts to spend electronically.

From these numbers, it is imperative that mobile payments are the way forward and digitization is unavoidable. Governments push for Aadhar Pay and a cashless economy is encouraging as it shows their interest and vision is in sync with what we want to accomplish.

Q4. How far is the digital payment system secure?

Digitization is the way forward, but there are few security breaches which the world is facing today in digital payments. There are many technologies working globally to completely eliminate any security risk with digital payments.

One of such technologies is ToneTag sound wave technology. With ToneTag technology digital payments are at its safest, as the data and transaction information are encrypted from end to end.

The ToneTag software algorithm encodes data into sound waves, which is protected with 3-layers of encryption, blockchain technology, and tokenization, delivering secure, contactless payment experience over existing infrastructure.

Q5. How much cost effective is the digital payment system?

As we stand, digital payment system infrastructure is still developing in the country. Upgradation of this may cost a bit but digital payments are inexpensive when compared cash based payments. Digital payments are the long-term solution to cost cutting and reduction of money spent in maintaining a cash economy.

The digital payment spectrum eliminates the cost of handling physical cash and the amount of money spent in printing the same. No paper trails, receipts, ledgers, account books etc. it is all stored digitally and efficiently.

Q6 What has been your performance in last financial year and what targets you have set for coming year.

With its strategic partnerships, ToneTag technology has reached 32 million consumers and 70,000 merchant devices and the number is expected to cross 100 million by end of this year. 4000 computer POS made contactless in a day with ToneTag SDK push.

ToneTag has filed 17 global patents to build great use cases and excitement in payments as well as offline retail space. With a controlled cohort, ToneTag technology has brought 83% customer stickiness for our partners without any incentivisation.

Our technology is running live with major brands and businesses across the country like Airtel, Freecharge, YesBank, ICICI Pockets and ShoppersStop.

Q7. What has been the growth in POS Sale after Demonetisation?

We are seeing a behavioural change in merchants and customers and these trends will be a sustained change in the long run. The increase in demand for POS and EDC machines has been steady and encouraging.  Recent RBI stats tell us that the number of POS machines deployed by the banks alone have reached about 3 crores in number.

This mainly due to the encouragement from banks and the government. Removal of MDR and taxes on POS machines.


About Mr. Kumar Abhishek

Kumar brings extensive experience on large scale, multi country, core banking implementations both on mobile and internet banking arenas. He aspires to enable financial inclusion to the grass root level In 2013, Kumar conceptualized the idea of ToneTag and developed a unique concept of making offline payments and eliminating hardware dependency. In addition to his business activities in the entrepreneurs space, he likes playing Golf and the Saxophone.

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