Alternate payment services provider, Indepay Networks, has introduced its prepaid debit cards targeted towards the unbanked and underbanked (people who have no access or poor access to banks), in urban sectors.  According to the company, the Prepaid Debit Cards will extend the benefits of banking to a wider audience, and provide them with a safe and secure solution to transact online as well as let them deposit and transfer cash to friends and family.

Payments infrastructure: The card will allow users to load money through direct deposits at banks, ATMs and through online fund transfers from existing bank accounts, as well as by making deposits at any Indepay merchant or partner. Users can utilize the funds deposited to purchase goods and services through Business Correspondents at retail points of sale, or withdraw cash from Indepay’s merchant and partner network enabled as Business Correspondent, cash advances at PoS or through ATMs, informed the company. Indepay’s proprietary electronic payment systems platform is interoperable with various bankcards, Visa, MasterCard and NPCI

Indepay says it has already partnered with various banks including SBI to pilot this program in urban and rural areas, and intends to scale up its operations in the coming 100 days where it shall announce several partnerships with Banks, Financial Institutions, business houses and retail players for co-branded issuance of prepaid debit cards.

Users & Touch points: Indepay claims that over 150,000 consumers are already using Indepay issued cards at more than 1,500 Indepay outlets for cash withdrawals, deposits and money transfers, and that it intends to deploy its infrastructure at 10,000 outlets in the next six months which is expected to scale to over 50,000 acceptance points within the next 12 months. The company also claims to have a rural banking infrastructure of about 30,000 bank branches and 1,20,000 post offices. It has points of service across NCR, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, North Eastern states, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The company also intends to partner with small and medium enterprises, large corporate houses, urban neighborhoods, online merchants and retail chains targeting 14 million cards in the next 5 years.

Last year, it had tied up with Tripura State Co-Operative Bank Limited (TSCB) to launch rural banking services, including use of a biometric enabled, UID compliant Micro ATM infrastructure to process and deliver rural payments, including those for government schemes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (MGNREGA).

Other Players: Other players offering payment solutions to the unbanked and underbanked include, FINO which  had acquired Nokia Money service in India to launch a prepaid mobile payment service ‘Takatak Money’ which focus on prepaid payment services and offer services such as money transfers, utility bill payments, mobile and DTH recharges among others. EKO Financial Services, a mobile enabled banking correspondent for India’s largest public sector bank State Bank of India and ICICI Bank, is another player. Besides, banks and telcos like Axis Bank, Airtel and SBI also offer payments as banking correspondents.

Airtel also offers Airtel Money, a prepaid payment system license which allows users to deposit cash into their account, but they can only use it for payments there after. We had also heard about the NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India), which offers mobile money transfers on its Interbank Mobile Payment Service (IMPS) platform for 39 banks, seeking an approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to make the mobile payments services by telecom companies like Airtel Money and m-wallet services offered by banks, interconnect.