Visa’s m-payments operations being stifled by India’s mobile operators

Facing competition in India

Electronic payment enabler Visa has claimed that its mobile payments service has been stifled by telecom operators in India that have refused to offer USSD access, a secure text message-based interactive system that the company wants to use as the backbone for its mobile banking services.

Visa has alleged that mobile phone companies on the GSM platform have selectively offered USSD to a few banks while refusing it to Visa since its mobile banking service would compete with the ones offered by telecom operators 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. We’ve launched a mobile payments company (Movida) on USSD and for one year now they’ve blocked it (USSD access).

They have said clearly that they will not give us their network to compete with them,” Visa’s group country manager for India and South Asia, Uttam Nayak, told ET, adding that this has impacted the company’s plans to boost financial inclusion in the country. Telecom operators, however, refuted all these allegations, claiming that they did not offer USSD on a commercial basis.

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