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50 crore debit cards in three years, says ASSOCHAM
Sunday, February 10, 2013

About 54 crore bank customers in India are expected to be issued debit cards in the next three years marking an impressive rate of inclusive banking, while the number of credit cards would remain at less than three crore in the same period, according to an ASSOCHAM study.

As on December, 2012, as many as 31.44 crore bank customers have been issued the debit cards and the number is growing at a compound annual rate of about 18 per cent. With focus on more and more bank inclusion, the pace of growth is only expected to sustain, if not improve.

 “This would take the number of bank debit cards to well over 54 crore in the next three financial years,” the ASSOCHAM study indicated. This would mean that just a little less than half of the country’s population would have access to the debit cards and thus would benefit from the financial inclusion.

On the other hand, the number of credit cards, largely a phenomenon in metro cities among the higher echelons of the middle class and the rich class, is not growing at even half the rate of the debit cards.

At the end of December 2012, the number of credit cards was just 1.88 crore and the annual growth is just 6-7 per cent.  Conservative habits in financial matters, very high interest rate and the excessive penal rates even for short delays in payment, by say a few days, are some of the reasons keeping the consumers away from the credit cards.

 “The so-called plastic money culture, implying living on borrowed money, has not really caught on in India. Part of the blame lies with the card issuers, which have kept so many hidden charges making users feel deceived, “ASSOCHAM President Rajkumar Dhoot said.

Besides, every now and then, there are reports about frauds taking place with the misuse of the credit card transactions. The increasing cyber crime, originating from the data theft, hacking have also resulted in loss of confidence in the plastic money, particularly the credit cards.

However, the debt cards are largely being used for cash withdrawals and not much at the merchandise stores, given the conservative nature of the this class of customers. The point of sales usage was limited to just about Rs 6909 crore monthly sales in December by the debit card-holders, whose number was about 16 times than that of the credit card holders.

On the other hand, the point of sale at the merchandise stores by the credit card holders was about Rs 11, 132 crore in December (monthly). In contrast to the debit card holders the cash withdrawals or borrowings by the credit card holders is limited to a monthly figure of just about Rs 124 crore, against a whopping Rs 1,46,125 crore by the debit card holders.

 “The debit cards are performing the role of bank cashiers, through ATMs,” ASSOCHAM paper pointed out. Several advantages have accrued both to the banks and customers through increased use of the debit cards. These include less crowding at the bank branches, convenience of any-time banking to the customers through the use of the Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
 

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