MSO Pacenet to tie up for India's first domestic payment brand

MUMBAI: The implementation of the conditional access system (CAS) has definitely ushered in an era of new business opportunities for the trade constituents.

A multi-system operator (MSO) Broadband Pacenet India (BPI) is forging an alliance with a consortium of 12 international promoters who are in the process of launching a smart card based payment mode for cable consumers and others who wish to avail of the service.

BPI promoters - well known personalities in the cable business - Jagjit Singh Kohli (chairman of BPI and director of ETC Networks) and S Ravindran (BPI CEO) - informed about this latest development while speaking at a seminar on CAS held in Mumbai.

BPI officials said that the promoters have decided to brand India's first domestic indigenous payment gateway as "Zero". Zero will be available to all those cable subscribers who invest in a set top box (STB). The launch of Zero will coincide with the launch of CAS services and its implementation across metros. The service will be offered and publicised through a network of cable operators.

According to BPI officials, the promoters of Zero have obtained the requisite Reserve Bank of India (RBI) clearances and The State Bank of India will be the participating bank. While speaking to, BPI CEO Ravindran says: "Zero will be positioned as India's first multi-application card that will provide consumers with access to a wide array of financial options."

According to information available, Zero will have the potential to threaten global players such as Visa, MasterCard and AMEX. BPI official Nayan adds: "Zero will offer much more than the traditional companies such as VISA, Mastercard and Amex at no extra costs. The services include financial applications, loyalty programmes, debit card services, credit card services, e-purse facilities, access card facilities and entitlement card facilities. More importantly, merchant establishments won't be charged extra transactions costs." At present, global players such as Visa and Amex charge anything between 2.5 to four per cent.

Zero is also slated to be an interoperable card and users won't have to pay anything extra if they conduct transactions in banks who have an agreement with member banks. The promoters plan to increase the network to 63 cities in the country.

BPI's Ravindran says that Zero will offer an added revenue stream to cable operators in the post-CAS scenario. "Even if consumers take time to adopt STBs, services such as Zero will empower cable operators to earn more during the interim period."

Looks as if MSOs are using every trick in the trade to make the CAS regime attractive to the constituents.

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