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Visa claims its m-payments “stifled” by Indian mobile operators – report


Richard Handford

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Visa said its mobile payments service in India has been “stifled” by local mobile operators who have refused to offer it access to their USSD services, according to a report in Economic Times.

The credit card firm said GSM operators have chosen to offer USSD access to selected banks but not Visa since its mobile banking service would compete with their own services, such as Bharti Airtel’s Airtel Money and Vodafone’s m-Paisa.

“Selective access is being given to some banks and not to aggregators like us,” said Uttam Nayak, Visa’s group country manager for India and South Asia. “We’ve launched a mobile payments company (called Movida) on USSD and for one year now they’ve blocked it (via USSD).”

“They have said clearly that they will not give us their network to compete with them,” Nayak added.

Movida is a joint venture between Visa and Monitise, a UK mobile payments vendor. The venture signed an agreement with HDFC Bank, India’s second largest private bank, to introduce its banking service a year ago.

However, mobile operators rejected Visa’s allegations claiming they do not offer USSD access on a commercial basis. In addition, the Cellular Operators Association of India said no GSM operators had turned down a request for USSD access.

In fact, the organisation said there have been discussions about offering USSD-based services commercially.

In addition, Vodafone India said mobile operators used USSD mostly for internal purposes and the existing network set-up was not designed for satisfying external demand.

Despite the current differences, Vodafone and Visa are partners outside of India. The two companies have jointly-developed a Vodafone-branded service based on the credit card firm’s payment system which is being introduced across the operator’s footprint, starting with Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and the US.

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