RBI Notification

RBI Launches ‘HARBINGER 2021’- Its First Global Hackathon

RBI Launches 'HARBINGER 2021'- Its First Global Hackathon

The Reserve Bank of India recently announced the launch of HARBINGER 2021- its first global hackathon. The theme of this global hackathon will be Smarter Digital Payments. The RBI said in a statement that it will invite participants to identify and develop solutions having the potential to make digital payments accessible to the underserved section, enhance ease of payments and user experience and strengthen the digital payments security and also promote customer protection. Let’s delve deeper into the brand new initiative of RBI.

What is a Hackathon?

Hackathon refers to an event organized to bring people together and also entities for the development of innovative solutions for the challenges in an area through problem statements. In this event, the problem statements are looked into by the participants, including individuals, teams, entities. It is a competitive event where participants submit ideas, create solutions and such solutions are judged by a panel of experts.

About HARBINGER 2021

The RBI stated in its notification that a significant growth was seen in payments in India in last few years with the advent of various payments systems. However, the RBI noted that the challenge was to sustain the growth in payments and ensure a shift in customer behavior towards the vision of less-cash society by making a framework of robust, accessible and secure digital payment and settlement system in India, which is adapting and evolving with time, customer and landscape of market.

Why was it needed?

RBI said that to encourage innovation in the payments system, RBI is organizing its first global hackathon themed Smarter Digital Payments with 4 problem statements to shape the future of payments systems in India. The Hackathon seeks your innovative ideas for the select problem statements. 

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Problem Statements

HARBINGER 2021 seeks innovative ideas for the following problem statements in the payments systems landscape:

  • Innovative, easy to use, non-mobile digital payments solutions to convert small ticket cash transactions to digital mode

To onboard the underprivileged and underserved section of the society to digital payments, swift and easy to use innovative solutions to convert small ticket cash transactions to digital mode, can be explored. It will raise the reach of digital payments and enable a greater inclusion of the underserved to the mainstream.

  • A Context based retail payments to remove the physical act of payment from the payment experience

This requires no direct interaction between the customer and merchant. It depends on the completion of an underlying activity and can include an automatic payment at a grocery store once a customer exits the store. Different use cases in retail segment can be thought about to ensure a seamless payment experience. The solutions can focus on consent mechanism, prevention of fraud and security features.

  • Alternate Authentication mechanism for digital payments

Majority of the digital payments today are authenticated by a personal identification number or password or CVV, followed by an OTP received by the remitter. The instances of digital fraud have become common as the SMS through which the OTP is received is not an encrypted secure messaging system. Hence an alternate smart secure authentication system can secure digital transactions.

  • Social Media analysis monitoring tool for detecting digital payment fraud and disruption

The analysis of consumer complaints and concerns over social media platforms can facilitate digital payment operators and regulator in taking proactive and quick action for fraud prevention and consumer protection.

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Eligibility criteria to enter into HARBINGER 2021

The eligibility criteria consist of the following:

  • Entities, teams or individuals (18+) who are eligible to enter into a contractual agreement;
  • Who possess a Minimum Viable Product or a product available on the market or ready to be rolled out;
  • Who have an element of innovation/novel application of technology serving common good.

The RBI further stated participants from all backgrounds are invited and knowledge on Indian payment system market and consumers will be preferred. Moreover, if participants win the hackathon, they must be open to form an incorporated entity in India.

Procedure to Apply: HARBINGER 2021

In order to apply click on the registration link

Once registered, choose the problem statement and submit your proposal. Fill in the responses for all the proposal questions. If you fulfill all the criteria set out in every category, you can apply for more than 1 problem statement. Your solution can seek to address the needs covered by more than a problem statement. RBI is looking at the uniqueness of the proposition and feasibility of the business model to achieve the desired goal.

Important Dates

It may be noted that the registration and submission of the proposal start from 15th November 2021 and ends on 15th December 2021.


The Reserve Bank of India said that being part of the HARBINGER 2021 provides an opportunity to the participants to be mentored from industry experts and showcase their innovative ideas and solutions before an eminent jury. Further prizes are also on offer for winners and runners up. The winner will get 40 lakh rupees, and the runner up will get 20 lakh rupees.

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The RBI has provided the mail ID in case of any query related to its hackathon. The participants can mail to harbinger2021@rbi.org.in For technical queries during the process of registration or proposal submission, reach out to apixsupport@afin.tech


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