State Bank of India is increasing its domestic merchant acquiring activity with plans to deploy up to 1.5 million point-of-sale terminals for credit and debit card acceptance by March 2011, an official from the Mumbai-based bank tells PaymentsSource.

The bank last week selected Visa Inc. and U.S.-based Elavon Inc., the merchant-processing unit of U.S. Bancorp, as partners in a joint venture it will set up for merchant acquisition. “The Reserve Bank of India has given its approval, and we are going to set up a wholly owned subsidiary in the name of State Bank of India Payment Services for this,” the official says.

Besides acquiring card transactions, the unit will deploy POS terminals at customer-checkout locations, handle replacements of terminals, and train merchants on card acceptance processes according to the official

“First comes our short-term target of 600,000 POS terminals over the next six months,” he adds. “Our penetration will be pan-India, but we will focus more on the Tier II cities at first.” Tier II cities in India generally are those outside of the four metropolitan areas of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta.

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