After YES Bank partnered with Nokia to launch Nokia Money in India, India’s largest bank State Bank of India has stepped up its own efforts to bring mobile banking to the masses. It has tied up with telcos Airtel and BSNL to launch a mobile money transfer service, reports Business Standard. These announcements have come close on the heels of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) increasing the transaction limit for mobile transactions to Rs. 50,000.

SBI’s money transfer service will be SMS-based and will utilise a unique code for authorising a transaction. SBI has already conducted a pilot with BSNL in Chandigarh, according to WirelessFederation, and is awaiting approval from RBI to launch it in other cities. How exactly the operators are involved is not clear, but the benefit is clear.

SBI currently offers an SMS or GPRS m-banking service called SBI FreedoM. According to a company presentation, SBI has previously launched Kiosk Banking through the Business Correspondent model. Under this model, a bank can appoint intermediaries such as Post Offices, NGOs etc to disburse/collect deposits and sell banking products to citizens.

SBI has also partnered with India Post, 3i Infotech Foundation, Zero MASS Foundations, Kalanjiam Dev. Fin. Services, Drishtee Foundation, Grameen Pragati, FINO Fintech Foundation, ITC Limited and EKO Aspire Foundation. In Maharashtra, it met with a success and the bank issued 38,900 smart cards via India Post by September 2009.

Download: SBI Presentation.

It has also rolled out Tiny Cards on POS device in 21 states, covering 109 districts. It notes that 67.28% (8213) of its total branches (12,207) are present in the rural and semi urban areas and it plans to launch 1,200 biometric ATMs in rural areas, of which 300 will be solar powered.

Key Mobile Banking & Commerce Initiatives

Dec 24, 2009: RBI modifies mobile banking operating guidelines (read)
Dec 7, 2009: RBI Deputy Governor KC Chakrabarty criticized lack of mobile banking uptake (read)
Dec 1, 2009: RBI Allows PCOs, Grocery Shops To Offer Banking Services, But Not Telcos (read)
Nov 24, 2009: Payment Settlement Guidelines for Payment Gateway service providers (read)
Nov 12, 2009:
Payment Systems in India – Vision 2009-12 (read)
Feb 18, 2009: Indian E-Commerce Braces For Changes In Credit Card Verification Norms (read)
Nov 21, 2008: RBI Finally Takes Up The Issue Of Internet Wallets And Cash Cards In India (read)
Oct 13, 2008: RBI Updates Mobile Banking Guidelines: Txn Limit Increased, Debit & Credit Cards Not Mandatory (read)
Sept 22, 2008: M-Banking Guidelines For India Issued; Ridiculous Transaction Limit (read)

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