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    ICICI Bank launches HCE mobile payments in India

    Customers of India’s ICICI Bank will soon be able to make host card emulation (HCE) based mobile payments at any contactless-enabled terminal using the bank’s Pockets app. The service, which makes use of tokenization, is currently available to the bank’s employees and is expected to go live for customers at the end of March 2016.

    ICICI Bank“ICICI Bank is the first financial institution in the country to leverage HCE technology to bring forth this solution,” the bank says. “ICICI Bank has developed this platform in-house. To use this proposition, an ICICI Bank customer is simply required to click on the Touch & Pay icon on the homescreen of the Pockets app in his/her smartphone and select the desired virtual credit/debit card.

    “Once the merchant enters the amount to be charged, the customer can just wave the phone near the POS machine. A text on the phone as well as on the merchant’s terminal will confirm the transaction.”

    The service is due to launch for customers in the last week of March “when the updated Pockets application will be available on Google Play Store,” the bank adds. “Customers can make payments up to Rs 2,000 (US$29.70) per transaction.”

    “With India becoming the second largest market globally for mobile subscribers as well as smartphones, we expect this to be a big game changer in the Indian payment industry as it will transform the smartphone into a virtual wallet,” says Rajiv Sabharwal, executive director of ICICI Bank.

    “The key advantages of the solution are speed, simplicity and security. The speed of transactions will add momentum to cashless payments. At the same time, it will herald a shift from low value cash payments to electronic payments at physical stores.”

    The bank became the first to make use of Visa’s mVisa solution in October 2015. The service, which was unveiled in August 2015, enables customers to make QR code payments through the bank’s Pockets app. The app has been downloaded more than 3.3m times, the bank says.

    UPDATE The technology underpinning HCE payments in the Pockets app was supplied by mobile financial solutions specialist Mahindra Comviva.

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