The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed a new regulation that will allow cardholders to choose their network provider for debit card, credit card, or prepaid cards. This regulation will be implemented starting from October 1, 2023.
According to the RBI, card issuers must offer eligible customers the option to select one card network from multiple choices. Customers can exercise this option either when the card is issued or at a later time, such as during renewal.
The RBI’s draft circular, issued on July 5, 2023, instructs banks and finance businesses to enable clients to have multiple card choices and to select their preferred network provider for their cards. Typically, when applying for a debit card or credit card, individuals are not given the opportunity to choose the card network.
Banks usually have exclusive agreements with card networks such as Visa, Mastercard, or RuPay, and issue cards on their preferred network. Currently, there are five card networks in India: American Express Banking Corporation, Diners Club International Ltd., MasterCard Asia/Pacific Pte. Ltd., National Payments Corporation of India – RuPay, and Visa Worldwide Limited.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has stated in its preliminary proposal that the approved card networks collaborate with banks and non-banks to issue debit, credit, and prepaid cards. The selection of an affiliated network for a card issued to a customer is determined by the card issuer and is dependent on the agreements established between the card issuers and card networks. Upon evaluation, it has been noted that the current arrangements between card networks and card issuers (both banks and non-banks) do not promote customer choice.