In July 2010, three cash cards – Itz Cash Card, Done Card and I Cash Card together accounted for almost 1.4 million transactions for booking Railway tickets in India through IRCTC: 14% of total transactions, and as has been the trend,  with the highest success rate – 88%. Cash Cards are essentially pre-paid instruments, wherein a user can pay cash to a retailer, and get money credited to his account, but cash cannot be withdrawn from it.

According to the RBI’s website, in all 17 licenses for prepaid instruments have been granted so far, the latest among them, on 30th July 2010:

Atom Technologies: granted a 1 year license to launch prepaid payment instruments
Bharti Airtel (Airtel M Commerce Services Ltd): 1 year license to launch prepaid payment instruments known as “Store Value Card Wallet”
OSSCard/ OSS Payments: 1 year license to launch prepaid payment instruments
PayWorld / Smart Payment Solutions: 1 year license to launch prepaid payment instrument – for PayCash
Beam-Suvidha / Suvidha Starnet:

Over the last year, the following companies have also been granted licenses for prepaid instruments:

Paymate, for its prepaid payment instrument called Giftmate
– Oxigen Services (India) – for its prepaid payments instrument OxiCash Cards
TimesOFMoney from the  Times of India Group
ZipCash
Kaizen (has RFID based SmartCards)
– GI TechnologyICash Card
UAE Exchange – for their Gold Card and Silver Card

A complete list of Digital Payment Companies In India.

Cash cards are also used for buying mobile prepaid credit, movie tickets, electricity bill payments, DTH subscription, buying online services like astrology, among several other known vendors. At times, prepaid credit is (informally) used for money transfer. This explains why telecom operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone would like to get into the business.

Why cash cards tend to work, is that it’s easier to open a cash card account than a bank account, and the distribution network of cash cards (and indeed, mobile operators) has a wider reach. The more the companies involved, the higher the competition, and the more the push on expanding distribution reach; for the RBI, this portends the growth of the cashless economy (wherein transactions are easier to track because they are cashless and digital). Banks have only recently been allowed to expand their retail reach, with ‘banking correspondents‘.

Related:

Airtel Granted License To Offer Cash Card Services In India
Obopay Powers BillPay Bill Payment Service For BSNL
SBI Partners With Airtel & BSNL For Mobile Money Transfers
Nokia Partners YES Bank To Launch Nokia Money In India; Pilot Begins In Pune
RBI Allows Cash Withdrawal Via Mobile; Increases Transaction Limit
TimesOfMoney Plans Prepaid Payment Card, IVR Shop; On DirecPay
ItzCash Card Raises Rs. 500M In Round 2 Funding From Lightspeed, Matrix & Intel Capital; To Add More Cards & Scale Up