Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Your mobile phone may soon be able to be used as credit, debit card

New developments are being done in the mobile sector. With the latest development there can be complete liberalization in the mobile commerce, the department of telecommunication (DoT) will soon be putting forward an application to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for seeking guidance on linking telephone networks with banking services.

Recently RBI outlined certain guidelines for mobile banking in India, under which it has allowed only a few basic banking services which can be undertaken through mobile phones. But as per new DoT move the consumers will virtually be able to use their mobile phones as a debit or credit card.

Sources informed Sunday ET that the ministry will ask for RBI's consultation to provide full-fledged mobile banking services to the customers, as per discussions held between the 13th Finance Commission team and DoT officials on September 18, 2008. As per a senior DoT official, the ministry up till now has not taken up any program on linking telephone networks with banking services, but is eager on it as it will help in generating revenues, besides giving more value to telephone customers. "These services can increase the share of value-added services from the existing 7-8% of total revenues from the sector to almost about 25% which is the case in the developed countries," DoT said to the Commission's team. Sunday ET has been provided with a copy of the discussion paper prepared by DoT.

Shetty, director at KPMG India, while explaining how the new initiative will help Indian consumers, said it will change the entire face of banking in the country. "So far, consumers can make only a few basic transactions through the mobile, but this will mean using your mobile as your credit or debit card. All you have to do is to send a message to make a payment,” he said.

In India mobile segment is primarily limited to basic banking transactions, purchase of travel tickets and payment of some utility bills, checking your account balance and last few transactions. Sanjiv Mittal, vice-chairman, Bharti Telesoft, is providing mobile banking facility to the customers in collaboration with Barclays Bank think that both, banking and telecom industry, will have to come together to make mobile commerce a success in India. "There are certain laws to be considered regarding money remittances. Considering the IT security condition, coming together of both is a good sign," he said.

Vodafone is also offering services like querying bank balance, requesting for cheque book, making stop payment etc. These services are being provided in association with banks such as HDFC Bank, ABN AMRO and Kotak Mahindra Bank. "Mobile banking is necessary to create access to the remotest of areas. Any kind of convergence is good for promoting mobile commerce. There is nothing better than both the systems coming together to provide a framework," said a Vodafone official.

The DoT's interest in the subject is sending positive signals to industry. "If the ministry takes up the matter with the RBI, it will definitely speed up the process. It will not only help the mobile users but will boost banks and even mobile operators to grow further," added Mr Shetty.

The DoT has informed the Finance Commission's team that revenues from auction of spectrum for 3G and BWA services approximately can go up to Rs 30,000 cr. The 13th Finance Commission has asked the DoT to give the revenue details from the telecom sector between 2010 and 2015.

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