SBI launches multi-currency international debit card

State Bank of India (SBI) has teamed up with MasterCard to launch its first multi-currency foreign travel card that would allow customers to make payments in multiple currencies through identified State Bank branches.

The card, which is available in retail and corporate variants, will allow customers to pay conveniently in multiple currencies.

''To begin with, the prepaid debit card will enable customers to load four currencies – US dollar, euro, British pound and Singapore dollar. More currencies will be added going forward as the card has the facility to be loaded up to 12 currencies, S K Mishra, deputy managing director of SBI, said.

The market for payment cards is bound to increase with 20 million people travelling outside India and the outbound travel from India continuing to grow, Mishra said.

''This is expected to grow to 50 million in 2020. Consumers expect smart payment products to address their travel needs and Multi-currency Foreign Travel Card provides customers the choice and convenience to use a single card to pay in multiple currencies and gives an option to load currencies of choice at State Bank's branch network," he said.

At present, the card can be issued at an annual fee of Rs100 without any interchange fee to customers. Customers will have to pay the traditional ATM withdrawal charges of $1.75 in the US, €1.5 in Europe, £1.25 in Britain and S$2 in Singapore.

The card is aimed at corporates and professionals, tourists and students travelling abroad and will be available at 100 SBI branches in four major cities.

''As Indians become more affluent and tap their passion to travel, they need a product that offers a wide range of benefits that allows them the freedom and convenience to do so," Ari Sarker, divisional president, MasterCard Worldwide, South Asia, said.

"While the opportunity and need was apparent, our next step was to find the right partnership for this project. SBI was a natural choice, keeping in mind their strength and capabilities to provide this initiative with the required infrastructure," he added.

State Bank Multi Currency Card also provides emergency global assistance services like complimentary card replacement, cash delivery, medical and lawyer assistance services, besides providing online account management services and 24 hours call centre support.

The product is backed by MasterCard's acceptance network of over 35.9 million merchant establishments and 1.9 million ATMs worldwide.