India Takes On US Payment Groups as Modi Announces Financial Incentives to Promote Rival RuPayCard

© AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, FileMasterCard and Visa credit cards
MasterCard and Visa credit cards - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.12.2021
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Disconcerted by falling business in key markets, Visa Inc has complained to the US government that India's "informal and formal" promotion of domestic payment systems is hurting their business prospects. Data released by the Reserve Bank of India suggests that RuPay's market share reached 63 percent of India's total card market.
The Indian government has announced financial incentives of $171 million for its domestic payment systems on Wednesday to expand the use of RuPay Debit card and BHIM UPI (Unified Payment Interface) across the county.
Under the planned scheme, the government will reimburse transaction charges levied on digital payments made by customers to the merchant as part of the merchant discount rate (MDR).
Merchants have to pay an MDR of between 0.4 and 0.9 percent of the total payment from the Mastercard or Visa debit card customers.
"This scheme will facilitate acquiring banks in building a robust digital payment ecosystem and promoting RuPay Debit card and BHIM-UPI digital transactions across all sectors and segments of the population and further deepening of digital payments in the country," the statement issued by the government read.
Under this scheme, the government has aimed to include 190 million marginalised people who are outside the formal banking and financial system.
The decision has come just as Visa Inc complained to the US government about the lack of a "level playing field" in India during a 9 August meeting between US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and company executives, including chief executive Alfred Kelly. Reuters reported similar concerns by Mastercard Inc in private conversations with the USTR.

"Visa remains concerned about India's informal and formal policies that appear to favour the business of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) - the non-profit organisation that runs RuPay - over other domestic and foreign electronic payments companies," said a USTR memo prepared for Tai ahead of her India visit.

Visa's rival, Mastercard Inc, accused Prime Minister Modi of using nationalism to promote RuPay. The RuPay Card is used at Point of Sale (PoS) and for e-commerce.
In its latest annual report, Visa Inc mentioned the government-imposed obligations and/or restrictions on international payment systems as one of the risk factors that may prevent it from competing against providers in countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The annual report also said that some of these countries, including India, have "taken action to promote domestic payments systems".
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