Axis Bank eyes 50,000 NFC-powered POS machines by 2015-end

Axis Bank eyes 50,000 NFC-powered POS machines by 2015-end

Private lender Axis Bank has said a fifth of its point of sales (POS) machines will be NFC-enabled by the end of this year, which will help users pay at shops without going through the tedious process of swiping and entering a PIN.

"We believe that in order to make the contactless mode of payments a reality, we need changes in the ecosystem. Some 50,000 of our POS machines will be enabled to accept payments under the new system," President, retail lending and payments, Jairam Sridharan, told PTI.

This is how it works. At a near-field communication (NFC)-enabled POS, the customer has to bring his card within a certain range of the machine and the debit happens automatically from the linked account.

He said the bank, which is the second-biggest POS acquirer after HDFC Bank, has already installed the technology in 100 machines and will be scaling it up to 20,000 in the next two months.

Earlier this year, the Reserve Bank had come out with guidelines for the 'tap-and-go' payments and restricted the maximum amount per transaction to Rs 2,000 due to security concerns. The guidelines followed a heated debate on security versus convenience.

The country's largest lender by assets and third-largest POS acquirer, State Bank of India was the first to launch an NFC-enabled card, but the compatible POS machines are yet to come in, resulting in no such transactions.

Axis Bank had 2.45 lakh POS machines of the total network of 11.31 lakh in the country as of May-end of 2015.

During the rollout of the NFC-based POS machines, Sridharan said, the bank will prioritise establishments like fast food joints, pharmacies, coffee shops, in-campus eateries and neighbourhood kirana shops.

The bank is also eyeing partnerships with taxi services as payment through the 'tap-and-go' method will be beneficial for the trade, he said.

It launched first of its NFC cards last week with an eye on the those who travel overseas, Sridharan said, adding that the presence of machines in foreign countries will ensure hassle-free transactions.

Accordingly, the pre-paid multi-currency forex cards and credit and debit cards in a few select categories will come with the NFC feature, he added.

Sridharan admitted that it's a more expensive proposition for a bank to install an NFC-enabled POS machine, but said the pick-up in volumes can help it recover the costs.

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