At a time when banks are piling more resources into
mobile phone-based financial services, Standard Chartered says its
new Cardless Cash Withdrawal product for the Indian market is still
a world first. RBI talks to CDK Sai Narain, head of
consumer transaction banking and strategic initiatives for the

Mobile phone-based financial services remains one of the hottest
topics in retail banking. Two of the Australian majors, NAB and
ANZ, have become the latest big banks to announce m-banking product
roll-outs (see “News digest”). And last month, ICICI,
India’s largest private sector bank, launched iMobile, a serious
attempt to bring India’s vast customer base into the banking
mainstream with a fully functional m-banking service (see RBI

Now Standard Chartered has hit the Indian market with two new
mobile-based products – Cardless Cash Withdrawal and Mobile
Commerce – that complement an existing SMS-based m-banking service.
The bank is looking to quickly jump aboard the growing
person-to-person (P2P) payments market; in India, in particular, it
argues, the mobile channel will grow in importance as banks look to
integrate distribution points such as ATMs, eKiosks and the
internet to maximise customer reach.

The bank describes its Cardless Cash Withdrawal service as a world
first. The product, which carries no fees, lets customers of the
bank transfer cash to anybody in India within the Standard
Chartered network, irrespective of whether the recipient has a
Standard Chartered account or not.

A customer makes a request at a Standard Chartered ATM to transfer
an amount to the recipient’s mobile number; instantaneously, the
recipient’s mobile phone will receive an SMS message with a PIN
number. The recipient goes to a Standard Chartered ATM and after
following the instructions enters the unique PIN number, order
number, mobile number and amount to get hold of the cash.

The other new launch, Mobile Commerce, is an attempt by the bank to
turn the mobile phone into a payments device, and will look to
support payments for a range of purchases such as cinema and
airline tickets, and general internet shopping.

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CDK Sai Narain, head of consumer transaction banking and strategic
initiatives for Standard Chartered Bank, said: “Mobile as a channel
offers a great opportunity for transaction convenience. We have
over 300 million mobile connections and its penetration today is
cross country and across various segments. We see this channel as a
great opportunity… we have the entire product basket in this range
– push based alerts, pull based query, mobile commerce and India’s
first Cardless Cash Withdrawal.”

According to a report published last year by VRL KnowledgeBank
called The Business Case for Mobile Banking (see RBI
), as of March 2007 there were 160 million mobile phone
subscribers in India. It is the world’s fastest-growing mobile
services market with an estimated growth rate of 6 to 7 million new
subscribers per month. In a recent study, the Economist
Intelligence Unit stated that mobile phone subscriber CAGR in India
from 2000 to 2006 is among the highest in the world at 87


Talking to RBI, Sai Narain said the bank is targeting
around 10,000 transactions per month by the end of 2008 for
Cardless Cash Withdrawal. For its SMS service, the bank has a
registered base of 100,000 users with an ‘active’ monthly base of
20,000. In terms of marketing, he said: “We will use all customer
touch points like branch posters, statement reverse and internet
banners to promote the products. We will use direct communication
through call centres for existing account holders and sales agent
for new customers.”

Asked whether the bank will roll out more mobile-based payments
products in other markets, such as China, if these new recent
product launches prove successful, he said: “Standard Chartered
Bank believes strongly in success transfer and therefore we will be
able to roll out in other markets.”