ALSO READDemonetisation: SBI waives MDR on Master, Visa debit cards Transaction cost waiver to boost digital payments: CAIT Debit card charges dropped, farmers to get easier cash access Zeta launches prepaid card, targets over 1 mn customers Citibank enables instant add-money to Paytm for its internet banking users
To offer some reprieve to cash-strapped foreign tourists following the demonetisation drive and also to help those headed to the country, forex player Centrum Direct has launched a unique mobile wallet that also offers a physical card under the label of CentrumPay.
The company claims CentrumPay is a first in the country and will be launched next week on the MasterCard platform with Yes Bank being the PIN issuer.
"CentrumPay can be used both as a virtual mobile wallet for any type of payments for online shopping, taxis, payments at hotels, etc using the QR code and also to withdraw cash at any bank ATMs as per the permissible limits now. While a resident user can load up to Rs 1 lakh a month, a foreigner can load up to Rs 2 lakh," Centrum Direct managing director and chief executive Guruprasad told PTI.
"In short, the CentrumPay is a mobile wallet and physical card rolled into a single digital payments solution," he said, adding this card combines a digital wallet that can be downloaded on any smartphone and a physical card linked to the digital wallet that can be swiped at any merchant PoSes/ATMs which accept MasterCard products.
"This is the first time a digital wallet is being combined with a physical card, thus allowing the customer to use it for online as well as offline transactions," he said
While the card is not linked to any bank account it can be replenished through debit/credit cards or online banking facility of the customer, he said.
Guruprasad further said while the product was in the making much before the demonetisation was announced, the did advance the launch following the scrapping of the high value banknotes on November 8 with a view to help ease the pain of stranded tourists.
He said the company, however, "is not pushing the product as not even half of the over 2 lakh ATMs are functional now as also those functional have serpentine queues. But we will formally launch the card next week."
He said Centrum Direct, which is the forex arm of the city-based leading financial services company Centrum Group, will charge a flat Rs 150 for a card from both foreigners as well as domestic customers. The card can be reloaded umpteen times for a period of five years.
When asked about the impact of the demonetisation drive on his business, he said, "We are terribly hit. This is a cash-n-carry business. With a withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 a week, what business you can run?" he asked.
"This comes at the peak of the best tourism season and I wish that the government does something with the stranded tourists as they have done no fault at all. A large majority of the tourists are stranded because like we Indians most of them also carry cash and not plastic money," he averred.
Stating that many foreigners are tearing away the remaining rupees (as a forex dealer can exchange only Rs 5000 worth of forex now), Guruprasad cited the example of a harried Italian at the Goa airport who came to a Centrum counter and tore away nearly Rs 10,000 in utter disgust.
He said foreign tourists who are currently cash strapped due to the limited circulation of new currency notes, will now have an alternate channel for making payments with the CentrumPay as well as availing of legal tenders for their forex.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)