Visa Launches New Payment Service in India – Links Indian Unique Identification with Visa Accounts

December 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM EST

New account will deliver financial services system to tens of millions of unbanked citizens

Delhi, INDIA, December 12, 2012 – Visa today announced a partnership with five of India's leading banks to provide Adhaar holders, the Indian national identity system, access to a Visa account. The system will provide tens of millions of Indians with access to financial services and electronic payments for the first time. The new account, called "Saral Money" uses biometric information, such as fingerprints, to verify and authorize payments. Both the account and the associated biometric data are securely hosted by the new national identity system, which is run by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

This new initiative brings together Visa, UIDAI, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and the State Bank of India to solve a long-standing problem of how to authenticate those citizens without an existing bank account or adequate forms of identity to prove they are who they say they are. This problem has long hindered the ability of banks to expand and of consumers to pay safely and securely. It has also restricted the government's agenda of promoting and growing electronic payments.

Now, by linking Visa accounts to the national identity system, customer identities can be verified via biometric recognition data stored centrally, for instance by running fingerprint scans at newly designed micro-ATM's when they wish to pay or withdraw cash. The Micro ATMs are portable biometric Point-of-Sale devices and laptops designed to overcome the lack of bank branches in parts of the country. Visa serves as the network which links the banks to the government's identity database and is currently the only authorized international payment network for the initiative.

Elizabeth Buse, Group President, APCEMEA, Visa Inc. said, "This initiative is a critical milestone for India as it solves the customer identification problem when it comes to opening bank accounts. The biometric solution is unique and we're delighted to be playing a central role in the program. The combination of Visa working with five of our leading clients, plus the UIDAI, shows what can be achieved when powerful partnerships are created."

Saral Money is not restricted to a specific bank or region. The service is aimed at all 210 million Aadhaar card holders currently enrolled and this will eventually expand 600 million people, the UIDAI's target for 2015.

Once an individual receives an Aadhaar, he or she is automatically eligible for Saral Money and then need only provide their Aadhaar registration letter at a bank to be issued with a bank-branded Visa account immediately, simplifying the account application process. Prior to this, potential customers would have had to provide numerous documents to verify their identity, which automatically excluded hundreds of millions of people. Having opened their account, they can use Saral Money to make purchases, send money, or receive government payments electronically, with all the usual convenience and security benefits afforded to other Visa accountholders around the world.

Phase 1 of the Saral Money program will see the account rolled out in New Delhi and the National Capital Region, with expansion to the rest of the country targeted for completion by the end of next year.

About Saral Money:
Saral Money - expressway to inclusive growth and rapid socio-economic development
Saral Money, the e-payment solution by Visa, UIDAI and Indian banks will enable the Government of India to offer citizens, especially the financially excluded, a simple, convenient and secure platform to save and remit.

The first step to financial inclusion, Saral Money, is aimed at ensuring that government disbursements are effectively transmitted and efficiencies are built within the system. Adding to Visa's many firsts, Saral Money will also combine UID's biometric identity solution and Visa's advanced electronic payments solution to provide better access to financial services in India.

Aadhaar – Building India's financial inclusion story
Identification authentication has long been one of the biggest challenges for the Government of India in spreading the benefits of formal banking systems to the remote corners of the country. ‘Aadhaar cards' is a groundbreaking initiative towards addressing the provision of an identity to millions of Indians in the rural regions of the country. Aadhaar is aimed at putting an end to the identity woes of all these Indians, thereby making access to banking services more viable for them.

At present, lack of formal identity hinders access to many services including banking and financial services due to the difficulty in verifying identity when signing up. UIDAI plans to enroll 100 million in the first year and a further 500 million residents over the next four years.

How Saral Money Works

  • Visa connects the different banks' systems and the UIDAI national database
  • Government issues citizen with biometric ID - Aadhaar
  • Bank uses the biometric information – fingerprint or iris scan - to speed up confirmation of user identity and provide a Visa Instant Account.
  • Government makes payment to citizen
  • Citizen uses Prepaid card to swipe APA / enters Aadhaar number at Micro ATM terminal
  • Visa links authentication request to UIDAI database to confirm identity
  • UIDAI database sends approval request to issuing bank via Visa network
  • Visa returns authorization response to Micro ATM
  • Visa sends report to acquiring bank
  • Acquirer settles transaction
  • All in less than 10 seconds

About Visa
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks—VisaNet—that is capable of handling more than 20,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit

For additional information, please, contact:
Claudia Parazzoli, Visa Inc., +1 (650) 432-4211,