Based on current market trends, and HDFC bank’s withdrawal of the
practice, free insurance for credit card holders is projected to soon be
a thing of the past. HDFC no longer offers its cardholders accident,
health or railroad insurance and is among many issuers whom perceive
‘free-for-life’, points and rewards programs as more attractive to
consumers. To provide its customers with such benefits, card issuers are
feeling the pinch and are forced to surrender the insurance program
offerings. Additionally, with the elimination of these programs comes the
absence of hassles and claim processing.


Kingfisher Airlines has joined the UATP network to issue accounts for
corporate travelers. The agreements between the two corporations aim
to expand Kingfisher’s market share and customer appeal, which has been
awarded with the Skytrax Excellence Award and voted the “Best New
Airline of the Year”. Additionally, the airline offers first class
service on
domestic routes, corporate frequent flyer programs and LIVE TV with 16
channels on its 570 daily flights. UATP accounts are accepted as a form
of payment by merchants around the world.


ICICI Bank has signed a 5-year agreement with Entrust for the
protection of its customer’s transaction data. Entrust will provide the
with standard SSL certificates to protect users of the institution’s
with transaction security. These certificates are reusable, provide banks
with a self-service administration tool and cut the risk of certificate
expiration. ICICI Bank has 2007 assets of $92 billion with a network of
950 branches, 3,300 ATMs throughout India and a presence in a total of
17 countries while Entrust secures digital information for 1,650
organizations across 60 countries.


The proposed credit venture between the Life Insurance Corporation
of India and GE will be delayed, once again, for an undetermined
period of time. The 2 organizations, hopeful of initiating their venture by
the end of this year, are unable to initiate deployment until the next
year, citing possible “control” issues. Plans for the project include an MoU
that ascertains LIC to hold 40%, GE 35%, Corporation Bank 4%, LIC
Housing 5% and LIC Mutual Fund 2%, with a 14% balance for financial
investors. Given the completion of these agreements, this would be in
addition to GE’s Indian credit card business with the State Bank of India.


Farmers have been issued 3,500 bar-coded Ginger Commodity
Credit Cards throughout the Indian countryside. The cards double
as a tamper-proof identity card to ensure against fraud and theft.
Additionally, smaller farmers will be now be able to conduct cashless
purchases and avoid “revolutionary” taxes that would, otherwise, be
imposed upon them for cash purchases. Other benefits afforded
“G-Card” holders is an opportunity to penetrate mainstream banking
and the option to take out a loan for up to Rs. 10,000.


The RBI subsidiary, The Institute for Development and Research in
Banking Technology
(IDRBT), has thrown out policies that require customers to pay Rs 2
for transaction switching when using ATMs. In place of this fee, banks
will only charge
mutual interchange transaction fees while some may waive the fee entirely.
All banks involved support this amendment and look forward to providing
a more user-friendly ATM service. A Nationwide Financial Switch (NFS)
was originally established to provide banks with a network of 16,891
ATMs under 27 member banks. ATM usage accounts for nearly 70% of
banking transaction in India with around 75,000 transactions on a daily
basis. With this development, however, experts project that ATM usage is
soon to account for closer to 90% of all banking transactions. The member
banks concerning this development include ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis
Bank, Canara Bank, Corporation Bank, Bank of Baroda and Punjab
National Bank, among others.


Indian banks and M-commerce solution providers have designed a
“Mobile Wallet” solution to provide consumers with enhanced security
when conducting mobile phone transactions. This solution has been
developed as an alternative to the security risks posed with SMS
transaction services with a JAVA based downloadable application.
This application can be used on a GPRS enabled phone that contains
the customer’s account information and allows for payment or
transaction initiation only through PIN verification. The “Mobile Wallet”
is projected to be a popular commodity in the coming months given that
there is currently 33 million GPRS-enabled mobile phones across India,
nearly 3 times as many Internet users.


Indian Bank has partnered with NCR for the deployment of its e-ticket
kiosk and 500th ATM. The NCR “Personas ATMs” will be implemented
at 156 locations, 51 of which will be located in railway stations, and is
part of the bank’s ‘portable ATM center’ objective. This ‘portable’
is a preferred option by Indian banks because of faster roll-outs and
deployment that is supportive of ‘Inclusion Banking’ (expansion to new


Paymate has announced that it will be embarking on the potential of the
North American mobile phone market with its mobile remittance solution.
With this, the company will be providing the primarily unbanked American
population, nearly 13% of the total population, with the ability to
and receive payments through their mobile phone network. This expansion
will be under the guidance of Paymate’s newly appointed Vice President
of Americas, Mr. Dhruv Singh, who will lead the growth initiatives.
Remittance across national borders is expected to reach $300B this year
around the world, with residents of North America initiating the largest
volume. Meanwhile India, Mexico, and the Philippines are the Top 3
destination countries for these remittances. PayMate is accepted by over
3000 merchants in India for various payment methods and has been
awarded “Asia’s Top 100 start-ups” two years in a row by Red Herring.


Jet Airways has partnered with Barclays Bank and Deutsche Bank to
provide Indian consumers with its “JetPrivilege” credit card frequent flyer
program. The frequent flyer program, “JPMiles”, allows Barclaycard
“BarclaycardPoints” holders and Deutsche Bank credit card
holders to convert rewards collected to JPMiles points. Deutsche Bank
card holders are required to convert at least 250 “Deutsche Bank
reward points” while Barclays Bank customers need a minimum of 500.
These conversion programs will afford credit card holders of both banks
more options when redeeming air-miles.


Punjab has announced its initial biometric ATM deployment allowing
both literate and semi-literate customers access to banking. With this
deployment, these customers can verify identity with the use of their
fingerprints and voice guidance to withdraw money and make balance inquiries. By 2010, Punjab Bank hopes to have ATMs such as these available in nearly 30,000 villages to 15 million households and 75 million people.


Bharti Airtel & Western Union have signed collaborative agreements to
launch a “Mobile Money Transfer” service for Indian consumers. This
agreement was made possible with the recent agreement between WU
and the association for who Bharti Airtel chairs its Mobile Money
Transfer program committee, the GSM Association (GSMA). Statistics
show that consumers in India are global leaders in remittance volume
received and with this development can now receive funds with the use
of mobile handsets over 35 different networks. Western Union and
affiliates have over 320,000 agent locations in 200 countries, 45,000 of
which are in India across 5,000 towns and cities. GSMA represents over
700 GSM mobile phone operators while Bharti Airtel Limited has 50.9
million mobile customers.