Near-field communication technology will take some time to get absorbed in the Indian market: SBI Cards CEO

In an interview with Ashish Pandey of Zee Media, Vijay Jasuja, Chief Executive Officer of SBI Cards & Payment Services Private Limited (SBICPSL), discusses in detail on how the company has emerged as a major player in today's credit card market. ​

Updated: Jun 23, 2016, 13:07 PM IST

In an interview with Ashish Pandey of Zee Media, Vijay Jasuja, Chief Executive Officer of SBI Cards & Payment Services Private Limited (SBICPSL), discusses in detail on how the company has emerged as a major player in today's credit card market. He also throws light on how SBI Cards provides flawless customer service process and caters to a wide customer base of over 3.75 million backed by the most advanced technology-led initiatives.


Q1. How do you see the competition ahead in terms of evolving technologies, introduction of e-wallets, and fresh initiatives by the existing players in the sector? Is SBI Card’s infrastructure robust enough to take the technology leap?

At SBI Card, technology and technology-led initiatives have always been an integral part of our strategy to deliver a seamless experience to customers. SBI Card’s advanced customer relationship management (CRM) platform ensures flawless customer service process. To cater to a wide customer base of over 3.75 million, we have recently launched an adaptive and responsive website with 20 plus self-service features including reward redemption. The website is mobile responsive, keeping in sync with the current trends of increased usage of mobile for accessing website. Observing the consistent increase in traffic from the mobile app, we have recently launched version 3.0.0 of the SBI Card Mobile App, which is available across all mobile phone operating systems – iOS, Android, and Windows and has seen over 1.2 million downloads since the time of its launch.

SBI Card is one of the first credit card companies that issued contactless credit cards or NFC-enabled credit cards in India. “SBI Signature Contactless Card” was the first contactless card issued by SBI Card. Subsequently, we have also started issuing FBB STYLEUP contactless cards and going forth all FBB cards will be issued as contactless cards.

Of late, E-wallets have become popular among customers owing to the convenience they offer in terms of the time taken to complete a transaction. However, there are limitations to using e-wallets such as, limited amount of recharge per month and low safety measures owing to missing second level of authentication. In contrast, a credit card remains a safer mode of payment as the second level of authentication is required in the form of a PIN or an OTP. It also provides an extended line of credit to customers for repayment of the transacted amount.


Q2. How has the response been to near-field communication (NFC) or contactless card for SBI Card?

Near-field communication (NFC) technology offers much greater convenience and security to credit card users. The technology shall take some time to get completely absorbed by the market. While credit card companies are readily issuing contactless cards, acquirers and merchants are working towards installing more NFC-enabled point-of-sales (PoS) terminals. As merchants increasingly upgrade PoS terminals, the number of contactless transactions will accelerate, which is already underway.


Q3. Data theft is a major concern nowadays. What initiative has SBI Card taken with respect to data security?

SBI Card is dedicated in safeguarding its customers’ interests. We ensure, at our end, that most up-to-date safety features are embraced and implemented to prevent frauds associated with credit card usage. We are one of the players in the credit card industry who first issued MasterCard and Visa (EVM) standard-enabled credit cards. Also called as “chip-and-PIN” cards, these cards offer much secured usage; by way of mandating personal identification number (PIN) for every transaction. All credit cards by SBI Card come with the obligation of one-time-password (OTP) authentication for any online transaction of payment. All the credit cards issued by SBI Card have these added layers of safety, which considerably reduces risk of fraudulent activities.

To reinforce the security features, SBI Card has initiated an educational campaign called “Prachar” that propounds safety features around credit card usage to bring awareness among credit card users. Under the campaign, customers are regularly communicated through various channels, viz. SMS, e-mail, customer service IVR, and also social media platforms, about all pragmatic safety measures. The communications further spread information about the various schemes and techniques employed by fraudsters and how to safeguard against such activities.

Q4. According to RBI data, payments through cards are rising at about 25 percent. What do you make out of it in terms of company's future? Has the flourishing e-commerce sector assisted in business growth of SBI Card? If yes, how?

SBI Card has a market share of around 15% in the credit card industry, and about 12% share in terms of spends on credit cards. In the past 2 years, while industry average of spends on credit cards stands at 25%, SBI Card’s growth rate for spends on credit cards stands at 28–29%. The growth is expected to continue for next 5–6 years at least.

E-commerce has been a noteworthy contributor in the growth trajectory of SBI Card in the past 2 years.2 years ago, less than ¼ of our credit cards’ spends were coming from e-commerce. Presently, spends coming from e-retailing have underpinned our growth rate by marking ½ of the total share of spends on our credit cards, i.e. earlier, growth rate of spends coming on SBI Card’s credit cards from e-commerce sector used to hover around 22–23%, currently it has registered a growth rate of 40–45%.

E-commerce offers ease of online shopping with credit cards and multiple payment options, along with various cash-back programs and reward earnings, which has pushed credit card usage tremendously. The sector has no boundaries; it has opened gates to premium brands shopping even in tier-II and tier-III cities, where people have money and aspirations but no access to big-city-malls. Hence, it is also encouraging cards usage in developing cities, which is consequently pushing card sales there.


Q5. What's the next goal for SBI Card?

SBI Card caters to a wide customer base of over 3.75 million from over 90 locations across India. We relentlessly work to expand our customer base and extend enhanced quality experience to our customers. We continually aim to grow our market share in terms of credit cards sales, and in terms of spends coming on credit cards. We follow a three-pronged strategy to acquire new customers. First, we source customers from open market. Second, we have access to a huge customer base of our parent company State Bank of India (SBI) that can be converted into SBI Card customers. Third, our co-branded cards with multiple strategic partners help us expand our reach to new customers.

As part of our latest initiatives, SBI Card has recently introduced “pre-approved” credit cards, which are offered along with the opening of a new State Bank of India ‘corporate salary package’ accounts.

Financial year 2015–16 was a rewarding year for SBI Card. We launched co-branded cards with Federal Bank and Lakshmi Vilas Bank in 2015. We launched a unique co-branded card, “SimplyCLICK SBI Card”, which has eight strategic partners - Amazon, BookMyShow, Cleartrip, Foodpanda, FabFurnish, Lenskart, OLA, and, the latest addition, Zoomcar. Our tie-ups with online portals, which are aimed at offering the most rewarding online shopping experience to customers, have found substantial traction with customers. We expect continued growth in the current fiscal year and the years coming ahead.