The number of debit cards in circulation witnessed rapid growth in India over the last few years. The government’s financial inclusion initiative, also known as Jan Dhan Yojana, resulted in the share of the banked population increasing to around 80% in 2017, compared with just over 50% in 2015.
Debit cards have normally been used for cash withdrawals from ATMs, and this continues to be the chief type of transaction. However, the share of ATM transactions has been declining over the last few years, as the acceptance infrastructure improves, and consumers become more comfortable using their cards at POS terminals for purchases.
Continuation of the drive towards financial inclusion will be a crucial factor in the further growth in debit cards over the forecast period. New debit card holders, especially first-time users, will have to be educated on the usefulness of this payment method so that they can undertake transactions with their cards going forward.
The State Bank of India (SBI) is India’s largest bank in terms of customers and accounted for the largest share of debit cards issued in 2017. The bank has played a major role in the government’s financial inclusion policies and the opening of new bank accounts for consumers in rural and semi-urban areas.
Despite having a relatively lower share of debit cards in circulation, private banks such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank follow SBI in retail transactions. This is in contrast to the public-sector banks, most of which, except SBI, have a low share of POS transactions.
RuPay (National Payments Corp of India), the indigenous card operating network, has grown rapidly since RuPay cards were first issued in 2012. As of 2017, RuPay had the highest operator share in terms of debit cards in circulation, even though Visa and Mastercard continued to dominate in terms of retail POS transactions.
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