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Union Bank of India reportedly has launched a test during which merchants in the slum area of Dharavi, near Mumbai, can use biometric smart cards to access lines of credit. Vendors and peddlers can use the cards, which carry mathematical representations of users' fingerprints on contact chips, to deposit money into savings accounts and to take out loans. Merchants can access up to 12,000 rupees (US$280 or 175 euros) per loan. Union imposes interest rates of up to 13.65% on the loans. Bank officials offered no immediate comment. One analyst says that such a service will appeal to consumers with relatively little access to banking services. Banks hoping to grow in the increasingly competitive Indian banking industry "are targeting the large rural population [of India], smaller towns and urban population in the unorganized sectors of economy," Sandeep Hebbar, an India-based senior analyst with Celent LLC, tells CardLine Global. Hebbar says most banking business in India conducted through the organized financial industry is done in English, a language that vast portions of the lower classes do not feel comfortable using. "Transactions through biometric cards do away with the necessity of filling [out] forms in English and remembering PIN codes [for ATM transactions]," Hebbar says.

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