Visa and Monitise have turned their attentions to the Indian market, signing a deal with the country's second largest private bank, HDFC, to introduce mobile money services nationwide.
The agreement, through Visa and Monitise's Indian 50:50 joint venture Movida, will see HDFC Bank customers able to pay bills, top up pre-paid airtime and buy tickets from their mobile phones.
The service is designed to operate across all mobile networks using any Visa or non-Visa branded payment account and can be accessed by even the most basic handset. Initially, a small group of customers will be offered the service before a nationwide roll out later in the year.
After linking their HDFC card to their mobile phone number, customers can access the service via unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) over Movida's secure connection and then go through a menu of options to carry out transactions.
Only the user's bank-registered phone can be connected to the service and a unique PIN is required to access the account.
Naushad Contractor, president, Movida, says: "This technology will be a game changer the way the iPhone was for mobile phones. This is a smart service for smart people and epitomizes everything Visa and Monitise stand for: it is fast, reliable, secure, and simple - and it will change the way consumers in India pay, forever."
Contractor says Movida will team with other banks to bring its services to more Indians as the JV seeks to tap into a huge potential market.
Last year India's Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry noted that mobile penetration in the country is forecast to reach 100% by 2015 yet the country is still predominantly a cash economy with 67% of retail transactions conducted in paper money, presenting a big opportunity for mobile players.
Monitise already has a foothold in the market after Standard Chartered Bank recently used its technology to launch a range of mobile money applications. Meanwhile, ICICI Bank and telco Vodafone Essar have formed a joint venture offering mobile financial services to the nation's vast unbanked population.
The Indian breakthrough comes shortly after Visa and Monitise - in which the card giant holds a stake - teamed up to offer banks in the US and Europe a range of mobile financial services.