The Reserve Bank is looking at a mobile phone-based solution to help visually impaired people easily identify Indian currency notes.
Currently, intaglio printing-based identification marks are present in banknotes of Rs 100 and above for helping the visually challenged identify them. At present, banknotes of Rs 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2000 are in circulation.
There are about 8 million blind or visually impaired people in the country, who are likely to benefit from the initiative of the central bank.
In June, 2018 the Reserve Bank had announced that it will explore the feasibility of developing a suitable device or mechanism for aiding the visually impaired in the identification of Indian banknotes.
In line with that, the RBI has now invited expression of interest from vendors for developing a 'mechanism/device' for Identification of denomination of Indian banknotes.
The device/mechanism should be able to identify the denomination of a banknote with handheld operation, when the banknote is held in front of it/near it/inserted in it/ scrolled across it, within a few seconds (preferably 2 seconds or less) and read out in English/Hindi the denomination, said the tender document.
In case of software-based solution, the document said: "The solution can be either totally software based capable to run on mobile phones or hardware driven or a combination of both... ."
Also, it should not require data connection and should function in offline mode, as per the document.
In case of hardware-based solution, the device "should be battery operated, rechargeable, small and handy" for ease of operation and should not require additional light source including daylight.
The tender document also said it should be amply made clear to the user that the device/mechanism does not authenticate the genuineness or otherwise of the banknote and the user may ascertain the same separately.
According to the new definition, a person who is unable to count fingers from a distance of three metres would be considered "blind" as against the earlier stipulation of six metres, which was adopted in 1976.
Going by the new definition, the population of blind people in India will reduce from 1.20 crore (as per the National Blindness survey 2007 data) to 8 million.