Imagine this. You go to a retail chain and instead of paying via credit card/cash, you exchange your m-currency for the goods bought. Well, an ideal m-world, but the foundation has been laid with RBI approving Airtel to launch its mobile payment service in the country, enabling virtual payments at retail outlets.
The ("semi closed wallet) service will enable Airtel subscribers to exchange physical cash for virtual money which can be stored on mobile phones to pay for goods and services for transaction value less than Rs 5,000. Once the user loads up his phone with prepaid cash he can walk into specified merchant locations and purchase goods and services [source].
Semi-closed wallet are prepaid payment instruments that are redeemable at a group of clearly-identified merchant locations/ establishments which contract specifically with the issuer to accept the payment instrument. These instruments do not permit cash withdrawal or redemption by the holder. Essentially, what this implies is that operator subscribers cannot use the ‘currency’ to buy talk time (RBI has mandated that the preppaid currency needs to be kept separate from talk time currency).
It is expected that all operators will get a similar semi closed wallet license in the coming days [Read: RBI’s Mobile Banking Guidelines].
Few months back, RBI approved Mobile Money Services from Nokia too.