About Us


To enable creation of a research and technology driven self-sustainable digital payments ecosystem that makes a range of financial products and services accessible to the under-serviced, excluded and poorer sections of society.


The Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion (CDFI) at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR), Chennai was established in September 2014. CDFI is headed by an Executive Director and supported by a team of functional and domain experts with programme and project management experience.

The primary objective of the Centre is to reduce inequities in financial access and services using technology. The Centre firmly believes that a series of digital interventions are required to accelerate access to financial products and services. Therefore, the Centre’s work in the digital financial inclusion and payments space is scalable across sectors/domains including agriculture, health, governance, education, and financial services.

To achieve its objectives, the Centre focuses on four key areas – Research, Innovation & Scale, Policy and Programme Support and Dissemination. Research is used to develop deep field level understanding of the relevant issues; identify and assess intervention areas; understand facilitators of cashless transactions and evaluate impact post intervention. Under Innovation & Scale, the Centre promotes product development and scaling of new digital payment use cases, business process reengineering and developing an ecosystem comprising of infrastructure, partnerships and collaborations to further digital financial inclusion. Policy and Programme Support is used to create a favourable and conducive environment for the interventions and to ease administrative and regulatory bottlenecks that limit innovation and scale. Dissemination is to spread the learnings from the interventions for others to benefit from.

Since its inception the Centre has initiated research studies, program support projects and technology intervention projects in various domains. The Centre has also set up a Digital Innovation Lab at IIM Bangalore to promote development and scaling of new digital payment use cases and encourage research. The Digital Innovation Lab has a ready to use ecosystem comprising of infrastructure, partnerships, collaborators, managerial and technical expertise, solutions, and ability to undertake specialized research.



CDFI advances the following objectives, all of which are aimed at poor, rural, or otherwise excluded population segments:

  • Drive payments made to excluded population segments onto digital platforms
  • Work with commercial providers to test and scale new digital payment innovations
  • Develop and scale new digital payment use cases
  • Analyse policy / program implementation frameworks to help create an enabling environment for digital financial inclusion
  • Create public goods to accelerate diffusion of best practices

The Team

Our team comes from diverse backgrounds and brings expertise in developing and scaling innovative solutions in collaboration with public, private and not-for-profit sector


CDFI's role is to identify catalytic opportunities and to fund grant, TA, research, and advocacy efforts to unlock those opportunities. For this purpose, it partners with the Government, both at the Centre and the State.

Given that its focus area includes agriculture and food, rural development, health and nutrition, education, banking, MSME and governance, partnerships in these areas with government ministries and departments are being created.

Commercial partners such as major banks, MNOs, third-party business correspondents, and entrepreneurs developing innovative digital financial services are also crucial for fulfilling the mandate of CDFI.


Awards/ Recognitions

CDFI awarded Best Innovation Partner for GKSF 2015 Image
CDFI awarded Best Innovation Partner for GKSF 2015

Kerala Chief Minister, Shri Oomen Chandy felicitating Shri Krishnan Dharmarajan, Executive Director, CDFI, at the closing of Grand Kerala Shopping Festival, 2015


Winner of Startup Karnataka Top Tech 25 Awards 2016

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