Fee-Weary Indian Central Bank Eyes Domestic Payment Card

The 1.1 billion residents of India may no longer have to deal with various versions of U.S. payment cards, now that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is preparing to launch The India Card. "The concept of a domestic payment card (India Card) and a POS switch network for issuance and acceptance of payment cards would be looked into," said an RBI statement. RBI cited two main reasons for considering the card's creation: "the high cost borne by the Indian banks for affiliation with international card associations in the absence of a domestic price setter" and the fact that more than 90 percent of current card transactions are routed through a switch outside of India, something that doesn't sit well with RBI.

Payment expert Todd Ablowitz, president of Double Diamond Group, said the idea "looks a great deal like a repeat of either China Union Pay (CUP) or one of the many local debit or prepaid networks around the world, like NETS in Singapore." He noted that U.S. retailers can accept CUP thanks to a deal with The Discover Network. "If this card network gains traction, you may see a similar deal happen for acceptance in the future."