Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India says it has launched the first Host Card Emulation-based contactless mobile wallet in India.

The ICICI multinational bank's Pockets app is adding Near Field Communication payments capability through HCE, a technology that bypasses the need to access the secure element on a handset.

Nearly 30 million customers now have the option to make in-store purchases by tapping their phones at point of sale terminals accepting NFC payments, the bank said in a March 15 press release.

"With India becoming the second largest market globally for mobile subscribers as well as smartphones, we expect this to be a big game changer in the Indian payment industry," Raji Sabharwal, executive director of ICICI Bank, stated in the release. "It will transform the smartphone into a virtual wallet."

The key advantages of the solution are speed, simplicity and security, Sabharwal said. "At the same time, it will herald a shift from low-value cash payments to electronic payments at physical stores," he added.

The bank will launch the service in the last week of March, when the updated Pockets application will be available on the Google Play store. Customers can make payments up to 2,000 rupees ($29.70 U.S.) per transaction.

Customers click on the Touch & Pay icon on the home screen of the app and select the desired card to initiate a payment. After the merchant enters the amount to be charged, the customer taps the phone, receiving a text to confirm the transaction.

For each payment, a one-time unique token number is created by the bank’s server, which is encrypted and sent to the merchant’s terminal, without disclosing any card information.

Last year, ICICI introduced contactless debit and credit cards to its customers and was among the first banks to launch the mVisa mobile payment technology in India.

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