With India’s recent abolition of some high-denomination paper currency already driving an uptick in electronic payments, Mastercard is bringing a QR code-based version of its Masterpass mobile payments service to the country. Launched in partnership with Ratnakar Bank Limited (RBL), Masterpass QR enables users to make in-store payments via scan of a QR code displayed on a smartphone. RBL is the first bank in India to integrate the service, which will become part of its OnGo digital wallet, with funds held on a virtual prepaid Mastercard. The service also will work on feature phones; instead of a QR code, the customer sends a merchant-specific code via text message to make payment.
India’s federal and state governments have pushed in recent years to reduce the county’s dependency on cash and increase financial inclusion—along with tax revenue. Mastercard has played a major role in those efforts, developing electronic payments initiatives in cooperation with government entities and launching payment products designed for underbanked and cash-dependent Indian consumers. The network opened a payments tech development hub in the Indian city of Pune in early 2015, and the previous year acquired an India-based prepaid processor to bolster its processing capabilities in the country. Mastercard launched the e-commerce version of Masterpass in India in 2015, under a partnership with Citibank India.
On Nov. 8, 2016, India’s Ministry of Finance abolished the use of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 paper notes in a move aimed at fighting counterfeiting and terrorism financing. Consumers have until Dec. 30, 2016, to deposit the notes into their bank accounts and/or exchange them for smaller denominations. Just days after the ban was announced, several digital payment and mobile wallets providers reported already seeing upticks in transactions and account balances.
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