ItzCash and India’s RBL Bank have formed a partnership to launch the country’s first cobranded prepaid card powered by the government-backed RuPay Network, the latest example of India's efforts to rapidly accelerate financial inclusion.

The RuPay Platinum Prepaid Card represents the first collaboration of ItzCash, the prepaid card network that has broad support with small merchants across India and RuPay, the low-cost alternative payments network the Reserve Bank of India sanctioned in 2012 to compete with MasterCard and Visa.

India does not ban outside companies from entering the payments market, but it does encourage use of RuPay, which launched in 2014 and is driving strong debit card growth in India.

In the case of ItzCash and RBL, the collaboration will benefit from the dramatic growth in mobile wallets that's underway in developing nations, providing a way around the lack of a bank infrastructure. With millions of consumers across India and in other developing nations still lacking bank accounts, the spread of digital wallets through smartphones is rapidly transforming access to financial services, according to new report from U.K.-based Technavio.

Technavio predicts the global mobile wallet market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 34.5% from now through 2020, driven by the spread of digital wallets to unbanked consumers, enabling online and point of sale purchases, mobile ticketing, couponing, money transfer and micropayments, the firm said.

Increased adoption of Near Field Communication and point of sale terminals equipped to accept QR code-based payments, the rise of online and mobile commerce and a “huge addressable unbanked market” are key factors that will drive global mobile wallet growth over the next four years, Technavio said in the report.

Targeting unbanked consumers, the RuPay Card will enable users to load cash to the wallet and make online, in-app and in-store purchases through a digital wallet, and also purchase gift cards, earn corporate rewards and withdraw cash from any ATM in India that supports RuPay.

Achieving interoperability between ItzCash’s platform and RuPay marks a significant milestone in extending financial services to unbanked consumers, including small-business operators and homemakers, said Naveen Surya, ItzCash’s managing director, in a release.

“We are extremely bullish on our association with ItzCash to make a substantial imprint on [the evolution of India’s financial inclusion roadmap],” added Rajeev Ahuja, RBL Bank’s head of strategy.

ItzCash over the last decade has built a prepaid card network that supports online shopping and bill-payment, enabling consumers to load cash to the card through its network of 27,000 ItzCash Point outlets across India. RuPay cards are accepted at all of India’s bank ATMs, more than 90% of point of sale terminals and at more than 10,000 e-commerce merchants.

 

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