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India's Largest Banking Conference debates on Payment System Upgradation

Banknet India's Second Conference on Payment Systems in Banks, which concluded recently, discussed and debated on Payment System Upgradation in Banks, Cheque Truncation, Automatic Clearing House (ACH), Electronic Clearing Service (ECS), Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), Card Payment Systems and ATMs etc.

Top officials from RBI, IDRBT, Visa, major banks and nearly 20 CTOs, CEOs and Business Heads from major banks and technology vendors addressed more than 500 participants representing more than 100 Banks & FI’s and nearly 50 IT Companies & Corporates from India, Cyprus, Italy, Egypt, Kuwait , Scotland, Singapore, USA etc. An exhibition organized at the venue showcased the products of major technology vendors worldwide.

Welcoming the largest gathering of bankers ever in a banking conference in India, Mr. Anurag Khanna, CEO of Banknet India emphasized the relevance of the conference, in view of strengthening of the Computerized Cheque Clearing and expanding the reach of Electronic Clearing Services (ECS) and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).

Dr. R. B. Barman, Executive Director, Reserve Bank of India, laid emphasis on introducing low-cost Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) in rural areas. The anomaly that ATMs are concentrated in a particular region of the country and too few in other areas is to be removed and banks should think of introducing low-cost ATMs in rural areas by stopping humdrum opening of ATMs by banks in a particular region, Dr Barman added.

RBI would persuade banks to allow customers of various banks to use a single ATM in a particular place in the rural area. ATMs would work as multi-service delivery channels, providing better services to the customers. Premier academic institutions like IIT, Chennai and IIT, Mumbai are already working on the modalities of introducing low-cost ATMs.

Dr. Barman disclosed at the Banknet India’s Conference that RBI has initiated a discussion with bankers to increase the volume of business in Advance Payment Systems products. Banks are being asked to try to create innovative delivery channels with suitable products. The products could be available through ATMs, websites, bank branches and other routes. The banks were suggested to target the corporate, small and medium enterprises sector, small scale units and individuals with suitable products through appropriate delivery channels.

Dr. Barman stated that RBI is planning to extend the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) mechanism to commodities, stock exchanges and government securities. RBI also wants to bring rural payment systems under RTGS.

At present the number of branches under the RTGS in India has crossed 16,000 in 700 centers and covers 85 percent of the volume of business. The banks charging high rates for RTGS transactions would come down as volume increases. The newly set target is to bring 5,000 more branches under RTGS by March’06 and 10,000 more branches in another six months.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will also be setting up the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) by April’06. Retail clearing operations, both paper-based and electronic, will be managed and operated by this entity. This company will have an authorized capital of Rs.300 crores and paid-up capital of Rs.100 crores. It would be jointly owned by private, public and foreign banks. This company is being formulated under the aegis of the Indian Banks Association. It will be constituted and registered by April 1, 2006.