India's consumers have everything they need to move away from cash—they're just waiting for the right catalyst, according to Visa's Sam Shawki.

"There are more than 350 million cards in India, but the average card gets used very infrequently, so if you increase usage by even a fraction, you can generate a major amount of traction," says Shawki, a senior vice president and global head of remote payments at Visa.

Movida, a joint venture between Visa and Monitise, recently entered a deal with ICICI Bank, India's largest bank, to offer Movida's mobile payment service to the bank's customers. Combined with HDFC Bank, another Movida partner, the venture covers more than half of the country's card market.

Movida hopes mobile phones, which are widespread in India, can reduce the use of paper money, which is the country's dominant payment method. About 90 percent of payments in India are made by cash, Visa says, citing estimates from India's Reserve Bank.

"Mobile penetration is high while card acceptance is low," Shawki says. "Mobility offers an amazing opportunity, you can top up your mobile phone services from home, and it's much easier than standing in line at a store to wait for cash."

Movida's service enables bank card holders to pay bills, recharge prepaid airtime and make purchase from their mobile phones. Movida supports access through a software interface or Interactive Voice Response (IVR) in multiple languages. Movida works from any phone and with any card type.

"It's an open system that allows the use of credit and debit cards in general, not limited to Visa," Shawki says.

Cardholders can make payments through Movida's secured connection after linking a payment card to the mobile phone number registered with ICICI Bank. Customers use a unique PIN to protect their accounts.

India's e-commerce and mobile commerce market is developing fast.

Mumbai power distributor Reliance Infrastructure recently established the first mobile and Web-based digital option for residents to pay their utility bills. Payvia aims to expand its partnership with Mobile-XL to India and Flipkart is growing its e-commerce business in India. RuPay, India's domestic card network. is beefing up security for online payments.

"India is an extremely exciting market in which to offer our services, where [India is] well behind in digitizing payments and commerce. We've seen an increasing acceptance and excitement in using mobile payments technology from consumers, and a desire from leading banks such as HDFC and IDICI to provide relevant payment services to consumers," says Lisa Stanton, president of the Americas at Monitise. "There's a great opportunity to speed up the proliferation of electronic payments in India, and mobile is the ideal channel."

Monitise also has mobile payment ventures in other countries. In Hong Kong, Monitise has partnerships with local mobile communications businesses PCCW Mobile and Jetco (Joint Electronic Teller Service Ltd.), which provides payment services to the majority of banks in Hong Kong. In Indonesia, where Monitise has a joint venture with Astra Graphia International, Monitise has partnerships with Permata Bank and BlackBerry. Monitise supports BlackBerry's BBM Money person-to-person payments service in Indonesia.

"Indonesia was particularly well-suited to the launch of Monitise's BBM Money service because BlackBerry Messenger is the dominant short message communication platform in Indonesia," Stanton says. "There are groups which buy and sell goods to each other within the messaging service which previously had limited options to transfer funds to each other."

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