India’s largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank, will begin to roll out NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled debit and credit cards next ICICI Bank Unifaremonth, according to a report by The Times of India. NFC cards will allow payments by waving a card in front of a scanner rather than them being swiped through a card reader.

ICICI Bank mentions that it will introduce these cards in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad and has already tied up with 200 merchants that includes shops and restaurants. The new debit and credit cards will tie up with both Visa and MasterCard for their respective products payWave and Paypass.

However, it is interesting to note that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines still insist on entering a PIN for credit card transactions and there ICICI Bank’s new cards will require PIN authentication which might defeat the entire purpose of having contactless payments card.

That said, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had told in an interview with The Times of India that they are exploring the possibility of allowing small-value transactions on a simpler basis, provided the provider takes responsibility for any misuse beyond a certain limit.

State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, had also sought permission from RBI to introduce NFC enabled cards which will allow customers to carry out transactions of up to Rs 2000 without entering the ATM pin number at point-of-sale (PoS) terminals. With more banks launching NFC-based cards in India, will NFC adoption finally improve in India?

Contactless payments in metro stations: Earlier in July, ICICI Bank partnered with Delhi Metro to introduce a co-branded card which can double up as Delhi Metro Smart cards. Customers now have to just swipe the card at the station to purchase tokens or recharge their Smart Card balance, thereby skipping the need to wait in queues at ticket vending machines. The bank had also launched a cardless cash withdrawal service in September this year.

SBI is currently conducting a pilot project of such contactless cards at the Chennai and Mumbai metro stations. Also worth noting, SBI in 2011 had partnered with Bangalore Metro to launch NFC enabled debit cards that can double up as travel smart cards.

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