Global payments company Visa Inc has tied up with India’s ICICI Bank to introduce a ready-made ‘mobile money’ solution targeting mobile operators, smaller banks etc..
The solution, which will enable smaller banks and operators compete with the likes of ‘Airtel Mobile Money’ and Oxicash, has got its anchor tenant in the form of Maxis-owned Aircel Ltd.
Visa said it has developed an end to end solution for others to launch their own branded mobile money services. Visa (and possibly ICICI Bank in some if not all cases) will take care of the back-end and technology, while the operator or the brand-owner needs to bother only with selling and marketing. It is not clear whether ICICI Bank will be a partner in all cases, or only in specific cases where there is no other banking partner.
Mobile payments is a controversial area in India as the banks have traditionally tried to prevent non-banking companies, such as mobile operators, from entering the business of moving money and payments. Services like Paypal and Google Wallet have also found the going tough in India due to restrictive rules by the Reserve Bank of India that make it mandatory for banks to be involved in such services.
In the solution that has been built for Aircel, mobile subscribers will get a “financial account” that is linked to their mobile phone number. With this, they will be able to do cash deposits and cash withdrawals, money transfer to third parties, self-reload of prepaid mobile credit, and various utility bill payments.
Visa is already the most dominant credit card network in India, and is also a pioneer in utility bill payments.
“A mobile money service need simply to subscribes to Visa Mobile Managed Service, allowing Visa to host and fully manage all aspects of the mobile money program on behalf of its clients: from look and feel, to consumer enrollment, to transactions processing, authorization, clearing and settlement,” Visa said in a statement.
Mobile money service providers will not have to make large capital investment or technology infrastructure, and will benefit from increased speed to market
“Visa Mobile Managed Services is not limited to larger banks or telecom operators, smaller providers can also take advantage of Visa’s technology to bring affordable mobile financial services to other parts of the country,” the U.S. company said.
Visa Mobile Managed Service will be initially available in Tamil Nadu, Aircel’s biggest market, and phased out across the rest of the country in 2013.