Breaking Master/Visa credit card oligopoly, UPI-based mobile vCard finds takers in India [Features Inside]

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Updated: Mar 24, 2021 3:39 PM

vCard is a digital credit card incorporating multiple tech innovations. It is fundamentally different from the plastic credit cards being offered by banks

credit card paymentRepresentative image/Pixabay

Post 8/11 (demonetisation), Fintech revolution in the country gained speed as Digital Payments and Digital Lending were seeing the ideal Goldilock’s conditions of regulatory, consumer and market innovations. However, one industry on the cusp of Lending and Payment – i.e. the Credit Cards – was still languishing with 5% market penetration and no meaningful digital innovations in the past 30 years. The Oligopoly of Master-Visa dictated all banks – big and small – on how they operated credit cards. This market inefficiency was the opportunity for vCard – to break the Master-Visa construct and innovate on the entire Business Model, says Hyderabad-based vCard founder and CEO Vishal Ranjan.

vCard is a digital credit card incorporating multiple tech innovations. It is fundamentally different from the plastic credit cards being offered by banks as it is the only Credit Card that is not using the Master-Visa Payment rails. It is using UPI, which is said to have a larger acceptance for both P2P and P2M payments.

Sharing the journey of vCard, Ranjan told FE Online that it took two years to stitch relevant partnerships, build the necessary technology stack and get the business risk and technical approval from RBL Bank. The product was formally launched on Oct 2, 2019, on the 150th Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

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Since the launch, vCard has added multiple features/ innovations and is being used by customers as the primary credit card – esp seen as their usage for smallest to biggest payment needs for their entire budget. (While the average monthly bill for a credit card is ₹8-10,000 p.m., vCard customers spend over ₹30-35,000 p.m. on vCard), said Ranjan while hoping that with new NBFC partners and new banks getting added, vCard shall scale up the program to new customer segments and rapidly grow customer volumes in the next 12-18 months, together with a positive EBIDTA in this year.

vCard has taken onboard RBL Bank as its primary Credit Card partner and Pinnacle Capital as the NBFC partner. Currently, over 10,000 customers are using vCard Credit Card powered by RBL Bank. Additional customer sets for the vCard Credit Line program are scaling up every month, said Ranjan.

Market potential

According to Ranjan, the current credit cards cater to 30 million salaried employees while there are 900 million Debit Card users in India (<5% penetration). There are over 450 million PAN card numbers with some credit history as per Bureau statistics. All the incumbent plastic cards continue to cater to the same 30 million super-prime customer segments, owing to legacy business models, underwriting methods, and expensive costs of operations.

“In contrast to Plastic Credit Cards, a digital credit card can originate the customers at 100 times lower costs (instead of ‘physical airport sales), offers chat-based customer servicing (instead of ‘call center support’), and collects through sophisticated mobile footprint from all over India (instead of top ‘10-15 cities’). Thus a Digital Credit Card – with limits as small as Rs. 15,000 – can potentially reach a market of 300-500 million Indian customers; in addition to Global markets,” he said.

ALSO READ | 5 things to know before applying for a credit card

Covid impact

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown hit vCard’s reach to new customers. However, as a blessing in disguise, it also led to increased usage among existing customers as the pandemic necessitated the demand for personal financial products.

“Covid did lead to conservative lending practices from our lending partners – thereby killing all new customer momentum for over six months. However, this pandemic also emphasized the need for a personal finance product – which is as agile and relevant as vCard. Covid saw the increased usage of vCard by all its customers; at the same time having a negligible impact on the quality of the loan book,” said Ranjan.

vCard vs Plastic Credit Card: Difference

vCard is a Mobile Credit Card wit with 30 days repayment period, which one uses for the entire Monthly bill (from Rs. 20 Grocery/ Rs. 200 fuel/ Rs. 2000 e-commerce and Rs.20000 school fees payment). The vCard Credit Card is much more versatile in usage, relevant in customer gratification, and significantly futuristic as compared to Plastic Credit Cards.

Benefits of vCard

Ranjan lists out several benefits for which one should subscribe to vCard even if he/she is already using the credit card provided by a bank. Such as:

  1. Instant Approval, Zero Documentation, Zero Joining Fees. Contrast to 15 day+ processes for Plastic Credit Card.
  2. With vCard, your Mobile phone becomes the Credit Card. Hence, no need to carry plastic card and remember 16 digits and so on.
  3. Only Credit Card with UPI Payments – to manage entire Monthly Budget irrespective of Salary Delays/ Health Emergencies/ Urgent Purchases.
  4. Only Credit Card with built In ‘Credit Line’. One can use Vcard For emergency purchases up to Rs 5 Lakh @ 15%.
  5. The subscriber can convert entire credit limit or Entire Bill Into EMI At ~15%
  6. No Esoteric Reward Points: Accumulate spend to buy relevant vouchers instantly. Get instant 0.5% spend waivers instead of 1000 Reward points on ₹1 Lakh spend over months, which are worth ₹100 coffee!
  7. No ₹5 – 10 Cash-Backs/ Scratch Cards – Minimum Rs 100 spend waivers depending on spend
    24X7 Whatsapp Based Support
  8. Zero Touch Ultra Secure – No Linkage To Saving Account; No Plastic Card Lost; No Physical Card handing over, Multi Factor Authentication; Face Recognition For High Risk/ Unusual Spend

Interest rates

Ranjan says there are two vCard products

(a) Credit Card with UPI Payments powered by RBL Bank for Super Prime Customers. Customers also get a Plastic Mastercard for ‘non-UPI’ purchases, if any

(b) Credit Line with UPI Payments powered by PinCap NBFC for Prime and Near Prime Customers

vCard CREDIT CARD

  • The vCard Credit Card interest charges are standard as per the RBL Bank Credit Card program – Zero interest for 30 days and 42% after the due date.
  • There is no joining fee. There is no annual fee in Y2, if the spend is more than a cumulative ₹1 lakh in a year, else it is Rs. 500+GST
  • There is a convenience fee of 1% on UPI payments.
  • There is a minimum cashback of 0.5% on Plastic/ Online Spend. The customer gets Rs. 100 and Rs. 250 vouchers for a spend of Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 20,000 respectively

vCard CREDIT LINE

  • The vCard Credit Line interest charges are on a daily interest model of Rs. 1.15 per 1000 per day. Zero Interest for Up to Rs. 5000 per month.
  • There are no joining fees. There is no annual fee in Year 2, if the spend is more than a cumulative ₹1 lakh in a year, else it is Rs. 500+GST
  • Fixed convenience fee of Rs. 100 per month
  • Cashback and Vouchers depending on Spend

Digital credit cards may be subject to hacking and other online frauds. How vCard addresses security concerns?

According to Ranjan, digital cards are more secure than plastic credit cards as there is no chance of physical card theft. There is no card data on the device and the mobile phone acts as an authentication device.

Even if the mobile phone is stolen – and the device lock is compromised- the MPIN acts as a safety check. Again, for unusual spending/ big-ticket spend – the mobile camera is switched on for instant face recognition, to authenticate payments.

Further, the OTP and device information is locked to the physical device and hence a hacker with a ‘cloned’ mobile number cannot use the credit card. Additionally, vCard undergoes multiple periodic security and safe audits to maintain ‘MasterCard/Visa’ equivalent security features.

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