Citi Launches Card Reader in India for Mobile Merchants (Jan. 21, 2013)
Jan. 21, 2013
As the U.S. and Western European markets for mobile card readers grow ever-more crowded, Citigroup is aiming to take a leadership position in mobile merchant acceptance in India. The bank this week announced what it describes as India’s first nationally distributed dongle, enabling merchants to accept credit and debit cards with a smartphone. Offered through a partnership with Bangalore-based Ezetap Mobile Solutions, the dongle includes a card-swipe feature and plugs into a smartphone to speed up in-store checkout and expand card payment acceptance to merchant locations that lack a payment terminal, Citibank India said.
The Citi Mobile Payment Solution has the potential to “dramatically increase” payment card acceptance from some 320 million Indian cardholders by expanding card payment acceptance beyond the “current low level” of 700,000 card payment terminals in the country, said Muge Yuzuak, Citibank India’s head of cards and personal loans. Merchants in the travel, insurance and telecom industries as well as taxi drivers are prime targets for the dongle, Citi said.
Flipkart, Shoppers Stop, Bajaj Allianz, Vodafone and BookMyShow are among merchants already testing the product, according to Citi. U.K.-based mobile payments provider mPowa in January said it also is considering expansion into India, where iKaaz Software Ltd. and PayMate India Pvt. Ltd. already are offering different types of mobile payment solutions. While Citi so far has not announced a similar dongle available in the U.S., “any Square-like dongle that expands payment acceptance is a boon for small merchants in India,” Todd Ablowitz, president of Double Diamond Consulting Group, tells Paybefore. And while card penetration in India may be low compared with some other markets, “320 million is still a huge market,” he adds.