Popularising RuPay

Popularising RuPay

The State Bank of India, the largest public sector bank started issuing RuPay cards  three months back and has realised the benefits of it.

In India, 90 per cent of credit card transactions are domestic; however, the cost of transactions is high due to monopoly of foreign gateways like Visa and Master cards.

If this process of transactions is made India-centric, cost can come down drastically. In the last 3-4 decades, the usage of credit and debit cards -- what we call the plastic money -- has increased manifold.

Their usage has actually multiplied in the past one decade due to emergence of e-commerce. We can not only make purchases of our needs from a big store by swapping our credit or debit card, we can even purchase air, train, bus ticket; or any commodity from e-commerce websites using this plastic money.

Though banking is no new business in India and credit and debit cards have been issued since long ago; however, these credit and debit cards had essentially been issued in partnership with international gateways like Visa and Master card. It is notable that Visa and Master cards make huge bucks from this business. 

According to world Line India, a leading agency providing services in the field of electronic transactions, there are nearly 20 million credit cards in the country; and HDFC Bank, State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank are the main banks issuing most of the credit cards. Apart from this, there were 389 million debit cards in the country in March 2014. 

During the last one year (2013-14) 58 million new debit cards were issued. It is notable that after the ATM machines were started being used, all banks have been issuing debit cum ATM cards to their customers, which can be used not only for withdrawing money, but also for making transactions at stores and e-commerce websites.

Foreign gateways like Master and Visa cards charge fee in lieu of their services and huge sum of foreign exchange gets transferred abroad by these companies. Due to monopoly of Master and Visa cards, a hefty fee is charged by them.

Their business in India has been increasing leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. According to RBI, credit cards transactions were Rs 1.56 lakh crore and debit cards transactions Rs 20.22 lakh crore during the year 2013-14.

Foreseeing the importance of an Indian Card, Reserve Bank of India, desired to start an Indian card and National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), realised this desire and an Indian card in the name of RuPay was started on March 26, 2012.

Today in­­­creasingly the transactions of a majority of Indian banks and financial institutions are being facilitated by RuPay and it is giving a  tough competition to Visa and Master card. NPCI has also tied up with Discover Financial to give RuPay an international acceptance.

International acceptance 

RuPay global card is now accepted at ‘Discover Global Payment Network’ internationally. RuPay was dedicated to the nation on May 8, 2014 by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee.

RuPay card is accepted on all ATM machines under national financial switch of NPCI. According to the NPCI data there are 1,45,270 ATMs and 8,75,00 points of sale which come under RuPay platform. In addition to this RuPay is accepted on nearly 10,000 e-commerce websites.

Banks recognised by NPCI for this purpose can issue RuPay credit and debit cards which are accepted in ATMs, Points of Sale (PoS) and e-commerce websites. As of now about 240 banks have been issuing RuPay cards. Along with this 200 cooperative and rural banks are also issuing RuPay cards, giving a boost to financial inclusion.

Kotak Mahindra Bank has started a new initiative on financial inclusion; whereby farmers of 75 cooperative societies can get payment for their milk directly to their bank account.

This model is destined to be implemented in Gujarat, where 3 lakh farmers of 1,200 societies will benefit.

It is notable for domestic sector that RuPay fee is merely one third of Master and Visa cards. Though RuPay is cost effective private banks are still not cooperating in adopting RuPay.

Around 150 lakh RuPay cards in circulation now have so far been mostly issued by public sector banks. Argument of private banks is that since they have long period tie-ups with Master and Visa Cards, they cannot adopt RuPay till these agreements expire.

Though private Indian and foreign banks know that in the long run RuPay would prove to be beneficial, they are not ready to adopt new card looking at their short term interests.

The State Bank of India, the largest public sector bank has started issuing RuPay card only three months back and has realised the benefits of the same. According to SBI officials, though it has long term agreement with Master and Visa cards, still it would be good for the bank to pay money to them and switch over completely to RuPay.

Experts believe that if only SBI adopts RuPay fully, the scheme would be a success. Although for international operations, fee of RuPay is yet to be decided, the NPCI says that it would be better to keep it low to maintain it attractiveness in international business also.

In the first week of July 2014, the secretary, department of financial services of the Union ministry of finance has written to CEOs of all the public sector banks urging them to issue RuPay cards to all new customers and the existing customers who have not been issued debit cards so far. 

Banks have also been asked to install RuPay card terminals in commercial establishments. So far there is a system of issuing only one type of debit card; however if one desires to get Master and Visa card, he/she can be issued the same along with RuPay card.

Those who are used to Master or Visa card need to be lured gradually towards using RuPay as it will prove to be a win-win situation for all, as it would not only reduce cost of transactions significantly, but also increase the card penetration in the country, especially rural areas.

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