SBI to allow mobile banking without a/c

Written by Bruhadeeswaran R | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 13 2012, 22:29pm hrs
State Bank of India has started a pilot project that would allow banking through mobile phones even if the customers do not have a bank account. The scheme, called Mobicash, had been introduced in New Delhi and Mumbai. The service, much like a mobile prepaid cards, allows money to be loaded on customers mobile that he can then spend. We have launched the product on a pilot basis and will introduce them in more cities in a few week, said Praveen Kumar Singh, assistant general manager, New Business, SBI.

Singh said the card can be purchased from specialised service providers by even those who do not have a bank account. Customers will need to pay R60, a non-refundable charge, to the specialised service provider and load a minimum amount of R200 the first time. The prepaid instrument launched in partnership with Oxygen, a service provider, offers facilities like money transfer, payments at merchant establishments and top-ups for mobile prepaid cards. As on February 29, 2012, SBI had 3.40 million customers who were using mobile banking services.

Boston Consulting Group estimates that while currently cash and cheque payments dominate banking transactions with a share of 49%, these are expected to go down to 15% by 2020. Mobile banking, which constitutes just about 0.1% of total banking transactions, would be second largest channel after ATMs, the report says and expects around 20-30% of total transactions to happen via mobile phones by 2020.

Public sector banks can use mobile banking as a financial inclusion product without setting up branches. However, the challenge would be revenue sharing methods and there is no clear mandate on this, said Arvind Subramanian, partner & director, BCG. SBI estimates that while a transaction at branch on average costs R45, a transaction through an ATM costs R20 while that on the Internet costs R6. For a mobile transaction the cost would be just R1.