RuPay excellent product, no visibility: Industry

India’s domestic card service RuPay is an excellent card with better rates than foreign card payment processors for banks, merchants and end-users, but its lack of visibility make for less traction, say industry experts.

Launched in March 2012, RuPay currently has more than 230 million customers and handles 20% of transactions in the country. The card has a lower debit card interchange rate, compared to international service providers, who roughly charge between 0.65%-1% on every transaction. “That’s an estimated 400 crore in transaction fees that’s going out of the country – which we could retain if we used a domestic card provider,” says A P Hota, managing director and CEO of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

The NPCI has also launched RuPay Platinum and RuPay International, in partnership with Diners’ Club and Discover Financial Services, and plans to launch RuPay credit cards by this June. “But do people know about these products. Where is the awareness? Where is the advertising? There needs to be visibility,” says S Santhanagopalan, president-finance, TVS Iyengar & Sons Pvt Ltd.

Since processing of transactions happens domestically, usage of RuPay over Visa or Mastercard result in a lower cost of clearing and settlement for each transaction. But this transaction affordability should be driving higher growth and more visibility, says

Currently RuPay is accepted in more than 1.88 lakh ATMs in the National Financial Switch (NFS) network. In tune with the idea of a stronger domestic payment network, the NFS itself is run by the NPCI.

“Having a domestic card makes a lot of sense at every level. I’ve seen the domestic NETS card used in Singalore and its amazing the kind of reach, convenience and ease of transaction. That way, we are light years behind with RuPay,” says Sudhakar G, a chartered accountant with BMR & Associates LLP.

Many people are unaware that RuPay is currently issued in 277 banks in India, including all the public-sector banks like State Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and all major private banks like ICICI and HDFC.

“I had to ask my private bank to issue me RuPay, because on their own they don’t take the initiative to issue the domestic card. I think they already have a good relationship with the international service providers and don’t want to jeopardise that,” says N Arunkumar, who is employed at a private bank.

“It is an uphill task. We have now talked with some banks and they have agreed to issue RuPay cards on certain days of the month,” says NPCI’s Hota.

NPCI has also networked with 5 lakh merchants in India and RuPay can be accessed at more than 8.75 lakh POS (point-of-sale) terminals across the country. POSs being the machines one sees at every sale counter at supermarkets, boutiques, restaurants or bars.

“I’ve seen travel cards in Singapore and its so efficient. The ease of travel is remarkable. I’d certainly see it as a welcome move if any such thing is available in India,” says Sudhakar on the NPCI’s move to launch a tap-and-go mass transit card in March in Bangalore.

Accepted on 10,000 e-commerce websites, RuPay has tied up with MobiKwik, CitrusPay, freecharge, ItzCash and SBI Buddy – something that the larger public is unaware of, say people in the industry.

“What they need is marketing. I don’t see RuPay advertisements. Why aren’t their range of products being advertised?” asks TVS’ Santhanagopalan.

RuPay’s Facebook page has about 4,068 followers and its twitter handle @RuPay_npci about 206 followers. A far cry from Mastercard and Visa’s social media presence in India, another reflection on the fact that the NPCI has a long road to travel in advertising its benefits to the comman man