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Debit card usage growing fast

Our Bureau

Already, a critical part of all payments is by way of debit cards, while at a more micro level, nearly 30 banks have issued Visa cards.

Kolkata , Dec 12

MOVE over credit cards, debit cards are growing at a scorching pace. The debit card culture is growing firmer roots in India, thanks to a rapidly increasing number of people who are using them in all conceivable ways.

An estimate worked out by Visa, which accounts for roughly 60 per cent of the market, puts the current usage at a massive 21 million, up by 45 per cent or so compared to statistics recorded in June 2004.

The growth, says Mr Uttam Nayak, Deputy Country Manager at Visa, is a reflection of changing spending habits in contemporary Indian society. Already, a critical part of all payments is by way of debit cards, while at a more micro level, nearly 30 banks have issued Visa cards.

Spending by tourists has lately grown in significance, a trend that has led to greater use of debit cards, it is pointed out. Studies have already been done to capture tourist spending using electronic payments - exercises that have thrown light on the value of such payments in stimulating spending on tours.

The tally is set to increase even further with more Indians travelling both within the country and outside.

On another front, banks too have started to realise the importance of differentiation even in their efforts to provide debit cards to customers.

Deutsche Bank, for instance, has emerged as the first foreign bank in the country to offer a zero liability product.

The card being referred to here is the bank's new international gold debit card, which derives considerable strength from a global ATM alliance.

The latter, says Mr Ajay Bimbhet, Head of Retail Banking at Deutsche Bank, is a partnership between a few international players. These include Bank of America, BNP Paribas, and Barclays, names that are not unknown in India.

"Clearly, a big demand for debit cards has spurred the local market for plastics. A number of other banks are now looking at gold debit cards," said Mr Nayak.

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