SBI set to launch ‘mobile wallet’ soon for cashless payments

The State-run lender is looking at speeding up the process for transactions linked to a savings account, through mobile phones

For a long time, we have been dreaming of paying a vegetable vendor without actually giving him physical cash, or going to a restaurant without a stuffed wallet. All this may soon come true with State Bank of India’s (SBI) new mobile banking service, through the launch of a ‘mobile wallet’—a first of its kind—in the coming months.

“It will be a stored-value account (based on a) customer handset and it is primarily meant to attract new customers,” a senior official from the bank said, preferring anonymity.

In mobile banking, the consumer sends a payment request via a short messaging service (SMS) text message or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) to a short code and a charge is applied to the customer’s phone bill or, in the proposed SBI scheme, a mobile wallet. The vendor is informed of the payment success and can then release the goods or service.

SBI’s mobile wallet is expected to become operational either by the end of August or September this year. The official said that customers would not be levied any charges by the bank for opening a mobile wallet and for mobile-to-mobile transactions.

High-end mobile users can use the service through an application provided by the bank, while low-end mobile users can use SMS.

The SBI application being used by high-end mobile users will allow customers to withdraw cash up to Rs5,000. The whole transaction process will be secure as the data will go through end-to-end encryption. However, an SMS-based transaction will not allow any withdrawals, but will allow the consumer to use a mobile only for small payments. 

There is still no clarity as to the amount that will be charged for cash withdrawals. However, the official said that the charges for withdrawals would be 1% of the cash withdrawn from an account. Currently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allows only Rs5,000 to be withdrawn through such mobile transactions.

According to the official, SBI has already reached an agreement with various service providers like Vodafone Essar, Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Tata Docomo and Idea, for providing mobile wallet services.

Recently, SBI allowed its customers who had mobiles not equipped with Java or GPRS to access its application—‘State Bank freedoM’—making it available from all application bases, over Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), and over USSD.
 
This service offers transfer of funds, viewing of the balance and mini-statements of the customers' accounts, payment of bills, request for cheque book, recharge of prepaid mobile connections, viewing of demat account details, top-up of direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV services, and m-commerce transactions.

'State Bank freedoM' was launched in March 2009 on a pilot basis at all SBI branches.

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COMMENTS

Niraj Singh

7 years ago

I think its a wonderful proposition.While it will allow the customers from non banking area to transact, it will also save a lot of fixed and variable cost like cost of transaction at branches,ATM or interchange fee etc......

Niraj

7 years ago

While this service is very promising from the point of cash less transactions, one needs to check the data security angle also.

R Balakrishnan

7 years ago

This is great. Even backward african countries are using the mobile phone to settle daily transactions. This obviates the need for 'inclusive' banking. That role belongs to the mobile phone companies. RBI should make this mandatory for all banks.

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