Soundwave Technology: A 'Silent' Revolution Brewing in the Digital Payments and Retail Industry

Soundwave technology is an extremely cost-effective mode of payment as it is not dependent on internet connectivity or tools like NFC

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Soundwave technology as a payment option for retail industry

Digital wallets, e-transactions, OTPs, digital ledgers-the transactional world has seen a massive disruption over the last few years, and the trend has fast caught up our country as well. In fact, non-cash payments have become a norm in major cities across India. Driven by greater smartphone penetration, strengthening of digital infrastructure, a high boom in virtual transactions and positive regulatory changes, digital payments have caught the imagination of consumers, ably supported by a greater number of retailers getting on the virtual payments bandwagon.


Contactless payment methods, although extremely convenient, require internet connectivity, specific hardware requirements and multiple operational steps, apart from being susceptible to security threats.  While acceptance of digital payment methods is on the rise, it is not being supported by a corresponding growth in the device and digital framework, which is still progressing at a slower pace. Smartphone penetration in India is relatively lower – only 24% of all mobile users own a smartphone, as per latest reports. Therefore, it becomes difficult to serve the vast majority of non-smartphone users with the benefits of digital payments through technology that has essentially been developed for smartphones.

This is where sound-wave based payment technologies come into the picture. Not being dependent on internet connectivity or communication tools such as NFC, soundwave technology is an extremely cost-effective, fast and secure mode of payment that does not require the installation of expensive hardware.

Opening up the benefits of sound-based payment to a larger demography: The Software Development Kit (SDK) of sound-waves based payment can easily integrate with POS terminals, EDC machines and existing app or wallet based payment frameworks. The data being encrypted in a sound wave ensures security as every tone is unique which enables it to not get mixed up with other tones or background noises.


The use of sound-wave based payment mechanisms would result in faster completion of transactions, which will be of great help especially during huge public events or to avoid long queues. In fact, sound-wave based technology was used during last year’s SXSW festival for ticketing purposes to great success. It was fast, avoided the two-phased authentication process and left no scope for any security threat.  However, there is more to soundwave technology than just digital payments.

Targeted and customized marketing has become the buzzword of retail today. Through data analytics and other tools, businesses are personalizing the marketing process based on the online buying behavior of consumers. Soundwave technology can add another significant dimension of audio to this process by enabling an effective two way communication with the customer through digital screens, TV, Radio, PA etc and send customized messages or offers which can be unique for every customer. Just like an ad-screen with a QR code, radio ads or marketing through podcasts can include specific tones to enable customers make bookings or purchases as soon as they hear it. The radio stations we tune in, the music we listen to or even the podcasts we tune in can be used an information source to provide us information on upcoming events, merchandise etc. The rapid growth and adoption of chatbots and other voice-based assistance services gives further boost to this idea. In a true success of the IoT concept, soundwave technology can lead to an effective and secure man-machine and machine-machine interaction, accelerating the onset of a convenience focused world of the future, where ‘thy will be done’ in silence, but through sound!


By Mr. Anil Kumar, CTO, ToneTag