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State Bank of India (SBI) has become the top merchant acquiring bank for POS terminals in the country with more than three lakh machines, as per Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) latest data. SBI has acquired 302,119 merchants while HDFC Bank came in second with 283,274. Axis Bank came third with 263,951 while ICICI Bank came in fourth with 200,759 machines.

Note that this data does not include SBI’s associate banks (State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Travancore etc).

In December 2015, HDFC Bank’s POS terminal count stood at 280,262 while SBI’s POS terminals stood at 270,307.

In a press release, SBI said that it has more than 3.07 lakh POS machines at the end April out of which 44% of them in metros. Urban cities accounted for 30%, semi urban was 18% and rural was 8%. The bank added that during FY 2015-16, almost 40% of the growth of acquiring industry in terms of number of terminals was driven by SBI by deploying more than 1 lakh POS terminals.

More than 30,000 of these terminals are Contactless/NFC terminals. In May 2015, SBI said it would be looking at converting 100,000 point-of-sale (POS) terminals in eight cities in the country. At the time, SBI officials mentioned that the cost of converting a POS machine to an NFC-capable one is about Rs 2,000-2,500.

The RBI noted that there is concentration in acquiring business with the top 5 acquirer banks accounting for nearly 81% of the POS infrastructure and top 10 acquirers’ share of POS being above 90%.

RBI concept paper to boost POS terminals: 

In March the RBI came out with a concept paper  for improving the card acceptance infrastructure. The RBI paper suggested that banks should install a number of POS terminals proportional  to the number of cards issued. It also suggested further rationalisation of  merchant fees (MDR) for debit card transactions.

RBI had fixed a cap on MDR  for debit card usage as

  • not exceeding 0.75% of the transaction amount for value upto Rs. 2000/-
  • not exceeding 1% for transaction amount for value above Rs. 2000/-

POS terminal penetration

An Ernst and Young report points out that the country has the lowest POS terminal penetration in the world. The report further adds that there are only 693 machines per million of India’s population, compared to similar emerging countries such as Brazil, which has 32,995 terminals per million people and China and Russia, each of which has around 4000 terminals per million people.