Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of Digital India has appealed one and all. Be it youngsters or senior citizens, everyone is trying to develop themselves ‘digitally’. Even the defence forces are also developing itself with new generation technology. Taking a step forward in the direction of Digital India, State Bank of India, recently, launched a new card named NAV eCash onboard the Indian Navy’s biggest aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, at Karwar, Karnataka. The card was jointly unveiled by Vice-Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command and CS Setty, Managing Director (Retail and Digital Banking), SBI. This innovative initiative holds a great importance for all the new age educated and multi talented actors and it also stands as a matter of pride for the youth of India. Abhijeet Daigavane who runs a company Atom O’Sphere is part of this unique initiative. This dual chip card enables payments, in the offline and online environment. The online part of the will be handled by State Bank of India and Abhijeet’s team will be taking care of the offline mode of the card.
An intelligent team of officers of INS Vikramaditya, lead by Commander Vasu Dheeraj had come out with this concept to replace cash payments with digital transactions even in areas devoid of realtime internet connectivity, like warships at sea, offshore oil platforms and remote areas. They were searching for the firm that can take care of the transactions that would take in offline mode. Indian Navy officials learned about Abhijeet’s company and contacted him.
To know more about this, ‘The media house’ contacted Abhijeet Daigavane and learned about the interesting journey of the young blood.
“Last year officers from INS Vikramaditya called me up directly over phone after checking out our works in offline payment technology space on our website. After 10 days of constant correspondence and brainstorming, I got an invite to visit the location, ‘INS Vikramaditya’. I was so surprised that I thought it’s a prank call. But then my partner & Co founder of company Atom O’Sphere Captain Raj Raney & I thought of visiting the vessel INS Vikramaditya at Karwar at the Naval Base ,” said Abhijeet. Elaborating further, Abhijeet said that we two visited the vessel in December 2020 and he was absolutely amazed. However, while having this surreal experience, Abhijeet received a sad news of his granny’s demise.
Sitting right in front of Commander Vasu Dheeraj and Lt. Commander Karthik and explaining the concept, was another overwhelming experience for Abhijeet and Capt Raj Raney . After having an outstanding brainstorming session, the officers were completely aligned with the solution capability. They then discussed their vision of system to be deployed inside the ship and disclosed their ideas with us, added Abhijeet.
It may be mentioned that ship has the staff strength of around 1,800 personnel and can sail for more than 90 days, nonstop. As the smartphones are prohibited on board and there’s no internet in the deep sea, it was acknowledged that offline mode of payment is the only way.
“Commander Vasu Dheeraj, while sharing his vision was firm on the dual chip card option. With the dual-chip card, he wanted to make the lives of personnel on crew easy. The contact chip is now managed by SBI for the traditional businesses like cash withdrawal, online transaction, pos terminal transaction, while the contactless offline section is completely closed loop wallet meant to be used inside a closed environment. Just like the cards we use in gaming zone, amazon shopping etc,” said Abhijeet.
Now, Abhijeet and his team were having a task to plan the connection of the main prepaid balance on the contact EMV chip with their autonomous solution. Ultimately, they designed the hardware, its customised operating system to accept the payment, the wallet software to be integrated on the SBI card, all the networking software along with the offline reconciliation system. The main and the toughest part was the logic to cover all the use cases inside the offline domain because the ship is 285 meters long and all these points of contact devices are spread across the ship with no LANs or Wifi communications. And to everyone’s surprise, Abhijeet and his team achieved the task.
“After getting convinced by my inputs, the Navy recommended us to SBI. That’s how we started discussing things with SBI. But now we were discussing things with the gigantic Indian bank. Moreover, SBI is the one that sponsored the whole project and took the responsibility of this project,” informed Abhijeet.
As the pressure was intense from Navy for early deployment, a fast track high performance senior most SBI team was formed and SBI planned to onboard Abhijeet and his team with their oldest and biggest prepaid vendor, ‘FSS’. So they are subcontracted by FSS for developing the whole offline ecosystem.
We designed the whole software, we designed the wallet and we also designed the hardware to be used. For the first time in the world, a dual chip smart card is being used for doing the online and offline transactions, informed Abhijeet..
The online part of the card takes care of standard banking system like online shopping, online pos transactions and cash withdrawal. While the contactless card, all designed by Atom O’Sphere is the main part of the show which takes care of all the offline transactions onboard INS Vikramaditya.
Expressing gratitude towards the ones who helped him achieving this feat, Abhijeet said that the Indian Navy team supported us a lot along with the SBI team. Our Chief Technical Officer, Ravindra Yadav along with our Tech Lead Gaurav Naik and his team worked tirelessly to make it happen. Our London-based partner, Rajeev Chakraborty has given us proper directions through out the process. Our Co-Founder & COO Captain Raj Raney played an important role in the team management till the completion of this project.
While concluding the interaction, Abhijeet mentioned, this is the first of its kind payment solution to be deployed on such a huge aircraft carrier warship in the world. It requires pin for every transaction even in offline mode and is highly secured.