NPCI aims to corner 50% share of debit card market

NPCI is also planning to introduce electronic toll-collection system, contactless tap-and-go cards and credit cards in the next three months


Mumbai: The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is targeting a 50% market share in debit cards by 2018 through its RuPay network as it ties up with banks and more Indians get access to banking services.

The payment services provider is also planning to introduce new products such as an electronic toll-collection system, contactless tap-and-go cards and credit cards in the next three months to boost its share of consumer wallets.

“We are aiming for 320 million debit cards by March 2017. In a year after that, we will constitute about half of the total market,” said A.P. Hota, managing director and chief executive officer of NPCI.

At the end of July, the number of debit cards issued by Indian banks was 688.2 million. NPCI claims that 290 million, or 37%, use the RuPay card payment settlement system. The rest are serviced by Visa and Mastercard.

“When you include commercial banks and cooperative banks, there are about 1,600 banks in India. Of this, we have tied up with 700 banks already, which has helped us cover most banked customers,” Hota said.

On Monday, the company said that 46 new banks had joined its list of shareholders, taking the total to 56.

The number of debit cards issued in India has increased two-and-half times in the four years up to March 2016 with the introduction of the Jan-Dhan Yojana. However, at least 190 million cards issued under the scheme have seen very few transactions as the cardholders belonged to rural areas and lower income segments, according to a 11 March JM Financial Ltd report.

NPCI is also introducing three new products before the end of this calendar year. The first is an electronic toll-collection system likely to be launched by 31 October. This will be available across 395 toll collection plazas on national highways in its first phase. The toll plazas will have terminals that will verify vehicles on the basis of a device, which will automatically debit money from a prepaid account. State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and IDFC Bank are on board to issue electronic toll-collection devices across toll plazas, said Hota.

NPCI officially launched the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in April, allowing banks to develop applications in a way that will let customers to instantly transfer money to each other. This is widely expected to transform the payments business in India, as customers do not need to exchange bank account details to transfer money.

Another product is a contactless tap-and-go card which can be used to make small value payments, likely to be launched in November. NPCI is also looking to launch credit cards by December.

It has currently tied up with 10 banks and is looking to issue a minimum of 5 million cards initially, Hota said.

Discussions are currently on to finalize charges and other product details, he added, without disclosing the names of these banks as final agreements had not been signed.

“Digital payments are the future for us and NPCI has done quite a bit in improving the environment that supports it. It shouldn’t be longer than 18-30 months before we see explosive growth in these transactions,” said Alpesh Shah, senior partner and director at consulting firm BCG.

Digital payments in India are likely to create a $500 billion ecosystem by 2020, according to a report by BCG and Google released in July. Most of this would be due to better peer-to-peer transactions, the report had said.