Bharti Airtel granted license for mobile payment service

New Delhi, Sep 15 (Calcutta Tube) Telecom major Bharti Airtel Wednesday said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has granted it a license to launch a mobile payment service.

‘Bharti Airtel was granted the license to use the semi- closed wallet by the Reserve Bank of India in this quarter,’ the company said in a statement.

The semi-closed wallet service will allow an Airtel customer to pay for goods and services in specific establishments.

Airtel’s semi-wallet has, however, got a cap on the transation value.

‘This allows a customer to exchange physical cash for virtual money which can be stored on mobile phone to pay for goods or services for transaction value less than Rs.5,000. These instruments do not permit cash withdrawal or redemption by the holder. This will create mobile money or payments as a category in our country,’ the company said.

‘It allows Airtel to offer a safe, secure, convenient and user friendly medium to our customers for making their payments.’

Semi-closed wallets are prepaid payment instruments that are redeemable at clearly identified merchant locations or establishments which contract specifically with the issuer to accept the payment instrument.

The RBI has agreed to give semi-closed wallet licenses to telecom operators who wish to pursue such a line of business.

With over 600 million mobile phone subscribers in India, an electronic version of the leather wallet can deliver personalised and secure services individually to a wide spectrum of users covering almost all sectors.

A full-fledged implementation of the concept is, however, some years away as all stakeholders involved in the process, including banks and teleom operators, need to devise a safe, convenient and cheap way of delivering such a service.

Airtel, however, said it could not give a time-frame by which such services would be rolled out as they were still working on a safe and convenient platform and evaluation various options before they came up with an offering for its customers.

‘It is imperative to design a safe and convenient deployment before we can take to the market. It is difficult to give an exact timeline for the launch at this stage.’

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