Mastercard set to join govt’s One Nation One Card project

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Global card payments major Mastercard is all set to join the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) scheme, just weeks after its biggest competitor Visa said it planned to enter the programme. The ‘One Nation One Card’ programme of the government is meant to promote digital transactions for payments across bus, metro and other transit modes.The government, which launched the card first with domestic card scheme RuPay, has allowed other global schemes to get on board the platform.

“Around 15 of our customers (banks) in India are at various stages of signing up with us on NCMC,” said Vikas Varma, senior vice-president, account management for South Asia at Mastercard. “Mastercard has been working in smart city projects globally, and we have worked across more than 150 cities for these projects and transit is one of the key areas globally.”

NCMC cards are capable of all forms of transactions, including dip into a terminal through the chip, swipe or tap, said Varma. To enable the transit payments scheme, the cards will also have an open loop offline purse capability so that consumers do not get stuck for charge slips, authentication or other formalities. Open loop cards allow consumers to use them at merchant locations as well as ATMs for transactions.

“The card, as it is being envisaged today, can sit on any account, the source of funds does not matter, it can be a debit card or a credit card – the same card will have NCMC capabilities,” said Varma. Besides working on NCMC, Varma said Mastercard was also working to onboard wallets on to the card network and has already held talks with around 25 wallet companies. Further, it has already licensed around five such companies and is planning to triple this number by year end.

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The Reserve Bank of India has permitted mobile wallets to offer interoperable payment instruments, and they can start offering prepaid cards to consumers like other banks.

Varma said the American technology giant was also open to partnerships and investments in the Indian fintech sector. Having already invested in entities such as Razorpay, FTCash and ToneTag, Mastercard is looking at more opportunities in the India market through its India Investment Fund.

“While we do not disclose the size of the fund overall, we have spoken about a billion dollar in investments in India, a significant part of which will get into setting up capabilities for storing and processing of payments data in India and investments in the fintech space,” he said.

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