Imagine you went to a restaurant, ordered your food and drink, had it, and swiped your own card at a machine embedded into the table, which would show you your bill, and every other detail.
Or you want to buy that dream gadget you saw on the Internet, while travelling between Delhi and Mumbai, miles away from any credit card machine. You can just punch in a code on your mobile, choose a credit card number already saved in the phone, and make a purchase right there. Sounds like science fiction doesn't it? But these super cool ways of spending are soon going to greet India's 30 million-strong credit card holders, say credit card companies.
Banks and credit card companies are falling over each other to capture the credit card users who spend close to Rs 4,000 crore every month.
This month, LIC, India's largest life insurer by size, has launched a credit card jointly with GE. Mumbai-based Financial Technologies is offering software for mobile phones that enables payment of different credit cards through a mobile phone.
HSBC is also in a joint venture with Global Payments, a US major specialising in wireless transactions, mobile commerce and Internet commerce.
A major reason for this shift, it appears, is that people are more and more opting to pay through other methods than just swiping their cards.
"Sixteen million (1.6 crore) people in India are expected to transact electronically by 2007-08," says MN Srinivasu, Director, BillDesk. Dipti Kataria, country head, Global Payments Asia Pacific, says: "The aim is to provide value added services to our customers and merchants, which would include better security and perks." The software from Financial Technologies is useful for people who carry multiple credit cards and make payments accordingly.
"For banks it will ensure higher security as card details are managed electronically without any human contact with it," says Ajay Adiseshann, MD, PayMate.