This move by the country’s biggest private sector bank, could catalyse penetration of near-field communication.
NFC, which stands for a set of wireless communication technologies called near-field communication, has been around for decades, but hasn’t really taken off in India.
That might change in the months and quarters to come as the country’s biggest private sector bank, ICICI Bank announced on Tuesday it is backing the technology, adding a contact-less payment option, branded iTap, within its mobile wallet app, Pockets.
“We want to open the world to our customers … the more channels you open, the more interactions there will be,” Rajiv Sabharwal, executive director at the bank, told reporters in a phone conference from Mumbai on Tuesday. “The whole effort is to reduce friction” in all banking transactions, he added.
Mobile payments via NFC, such as iTap, require smartphones equipped with the relevant radio chip. Such a payment will also need a mobile Internet connection, at least for the fraction-of-a-second over which the payment happens. These transactions will also require that the shops where one might want to make such payments have NFC-equipped point-of-sale terminals. Wave the smartphone near the terminal or gently tap it, and you are done.
The number of such terminals in the country is currently a measly 40,000, but Sabharwal expects it will rise to about a 100,000 in the next three to four months and thereafter will see a “hockey-stick” growth as more businesses take to it – meaning a sharp increase in adoption.
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