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Get an iPhone on credit

Personal loans and auto loans are passé. Enter iPhone loans, which are set to provide the money for the aspirational handset that has been making waves the world over. Indulal PM reports. Style shootout

business Updated: Aug 22, 2008 00:29 IST
Indulal PM

Personal loans and auto loans are passé. Enter iPhone loans, which are set to provide the money for the aspirational handset that has been making waves the world over.

Vodafone and Bharti Airtel, which are set to introduce this next generation cell phone on Friday, have tied up with ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Barclays Bank to provide finance to customers who are planning to buy the iPhone but can’t afford it immediately.

“As per the arrangement, customers who hold a credit card of any of these banks can avail iPhone without any down payment and at a rate which will be significantly below the interest rates charged for credit cards or personal loans,” said a top official working with a leading telecom service provider who did not wish to be named.

For instance ICICI Bank offers personal loans that range between 9.8 per cent and 15.5 per cent per annum. However, finance for the iPhone would be available at a significantly lesser interest rate.

“The amount can be reimbursed in 6 to 12 months equated monthly installments (EMIs),” said an official who has direct knowledge of the deal.

However, spokespersons of both Airtel and Vodafone declined to comment on the issue.

A top ICICI official confirmed that the bank has agreed to offer a credit facility similar to ones available for any high-end product in the market. “This could be similar to the credit facility that we are currently offering in the consumer finance space,” the official said.

The move to provide credit facility is being seen as a step by operators to nullify the hefty price tag under which the phones are offered in India.

“In the US, the operators are giving subsidies to increase the usage and the attraction is the price tag. You need to have a price advantage while you market this in India,” said an industry analyst. “However, you cannot compare India and the US as both are two different markets.”

Vodafone and Bharti Airtel are marketing two categories of iPhones at Rs 31,600 and Rs 36,000 in the Indian market.

iPhone has third generation mobile telephony features and is twice as fast compared with existing mobile phones. The phone also has an in-built GPS system that facilitates as a navigation and positioning tool.

According to analysts, the iPhone is a high-end luxury phone and is not sold on credit. “Here it will take time to test how the market will react to it. We need to wait and watch up to what extend this could be received,” said Nishna Biyani, telecom analyst with the city-based brokerage firm, Prabhudas Leeladhar.