State-owned Indian operator BSNL launched a mobile wallet designed to boost financial inclusion in semi-urban and rural parts of the country, and assist a government programme to reduce the amount of cash in circulation.

The service offers all 100 million BSNL subscribers the ability to make payments at 1.5 million merchants throughout India, along with paying bills, making purchases on e-commerce sites, paying public transport fees, and topping up airtime.

BSNL developed the service in partnership with mobile wallet platform provider MobiKwik, which hailed the project as the largest available from an Indian telecoms service provider. Bipin Preet Singh, founder and CEO of MobiKwik, said the collaboration will deliver “highly dependable” digital payments to BSNL’s customers at a time when smartphone penetration in the country is growing.

Shri Anupam Shrivastava, chairman and MD of BSNL, said the service is “another important milestone” towards achieving Indian prime minister Modi’s vision of “making India a less-cash society”, referring to the removal of high-value currency notes from circulation.

India’s telecoms minister, Manoj Sinha, said the wallet plays a key role in establishing the country as a “digital superpower”. He noted the service will strengthen “financial inclusion in the rural hinterlands, which often get neglected.”

BSNL and MobiKwik are launching into an increasingly competitive mobile money market, with rival Indian services available from companies including Paytm, Hike, and Samsung Pay.