Government efforts to promote financial inclusion have made RuPay stand out among its international peers. The payment gateway has surely helped the government achieve its social objective, and it may even end up being a profitable one, competing with global giants,No other segment in the financial services industry, which impacts the masses in such large numbers, is as secretive as the cards business. Given the nature of the business —which is a near duopoly dominated by Visa and MasterCard — there is hardly anyone who has been able to get data from these two, nor have the regulators bothered to disclose.
If the prime minister of a country had to talk about the 'dominance' of companies, one could imagine the hold of those companies in the space they operate. It was almost a cozy club of banks and card companies that kept the costs and fees in such confidence that consumer groups in India couldn't do much. Of course, these companies have faced class-action suits in the US and have paid billions of dollars to settle such claims. But due to the government initiative on financial inclusion, the NPCI, jointly owned by banks, is making strong headway in the business. It is even making private banks join the network. "The financial inclusion initiative of the government has given a big boost to RuPay," says AP Hota, MD and chief at NPCI. "We have one-thirds market share and it is growing gradually. We have 20 per cent market share in transactions and that percentage is growing month-on-month. Every day there are 10 million transactions done via cards and RuPay is at 2 million and picking up." Throw the same questions to Visa, or a MasterCard, pat comes the reply, "We cannot disclose the numbers." RuPay was launched in 2012 and was an also-ran for a couple of years before Modi's Jan-Dhan Yojana gave it new life. The government's efforts to make every household have access to bank accounts found only the state supported NPCI pick up the challenge.There are 603 million debit cards in use in India, data from the RBI shows. As of October 30, out of 222 million RuPay cards in circulation, close to 170 million cards are linked to Jan-Dhan accounts and only 52 million cards are mainstream. The remaining are from Visa, MasterCard and American Express. "The domestic card system has gained popularity and with its linkage under the Jan-DhanYojana, it has become a household name," RBI deputy governor SS Mundra said. But many accounts, which were opened by the government for Jan-Dhan, still do not have enough deposits, and hence these cards are not being used optimally.