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Financial Inclusion ICICI, WU & Mastercard way

, October 23, 2012, 0 Comments

In a major push to Financial inclusion, Private sector banking major ICICI Bank, Instant remittance major – Western Union and Payment gateway technology specialist – MasterCard today launched a co-branded prepaid card.

The uniqueness of the card is that it can be used to withdraw cash from Western Union outlets and ICICI Bank ATMs, and to make retail purchases at MasterCard’s point-of-sale terminals.

The card would give users all the benefits of a debit card without having to maintain daily balance. The maximum amount that can be loaded into the card is 50,000 rupees.

The card will be available for a one-time fee of 100 rupees, and an annual maintenance charge of 50 rupees will be applicable from the second year of use onwards.In addition, a minimum charge of 20 rupees would be applicable each time funds are loaded into the card.

Western Union, which will act as ICICI Bank’s business correspondent for promoting financial inclusion, will expand the coverage of these prepaid cards to more outlets the next financial year.

The company is also planning to offer a facility wherein a user can transfer funds from one prepaid card to another. The prepaid card would benefit those who do not have bank accounts.

Around 65% of India’s population is under banked, and resorts to makeshift ways to protect its cash, said Kiran Shetty, managing director of Western Union India.

The Reserve Bank of India has been encouraging financial institutions to offer electronic and prepaid payment systems at affordable prices to promote low usage of cash and paper for transactions.

In a choppy market, ICICI Bank shares ended 0.4% higher at 1,079.45 rupees on the NSE.