MUMBAI (TIP): NFC or ‘contactless’ payment cards, which can complete a payment transaction in one-tenth of the time traditionally taken to conduct electronic transactions, will soon be available in India. ICICI Bank has finalised launch of contactless debit and credit cards next month. NFC (Near Field Communication) cards allow payments can be made by merely waving the card in front of a scanner instead of requiring them to be swiped or dipped into a card reader.

Rajiv Sabharwal, ED, ICICI Bank said “We expect this to be one of the biggest game changers in the payment industry. The key advantage is that, this card can ensure the transaction gets completed in one tenth the time taken by an existing credit card. Also since the card need not leave the customer’s hand, the level of security is higher.” Present regulations require that all cards need to be authenticated by punching a pin to complete the transation and as of now ICICI Bank’s NFC cards will need to be authenticated with PIN. However, RBI has said that it will review this requirement for small transactions.

RBI governor Raghuram Rajan had said that the central bank was exploring the possibility of allowing small-value transactions on a simpler basis, provided the provider takes full responsibility of misuse beyond a certain point. ICICI Bank will introduce this cards in a Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. It has already tied up with 200 merchants in these cities and in Gurgaon. The shops include retail and restaurant chains. The bank will issue both debit and credit cards and will tie up with both Visa and MasterCard for their products payWave and s Paypass respectively.

“In Australia, where NFC was recently introduced, in a matter of months half the market converted to NFC cards because of the convenience. There is a strong pull for this kind of a product from the merchant side as they can service many more customers in the same time. Given our distribution capabilities we expect to make a big difference,” said Sabharwal. In markets where NFC is being used signature or pin validation is waived for low-value transactions making it the fastest form of payment. “Today many believe that cards are to used only for high value payments and they use cash for low value transactions. With NFC even small value payments can be made by card and these transactions can be brought into the formal channel,” said Sabharwal.

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