Ticket bookings get tougher as IRCTC bars SBI, ICICI and other banks' cards

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Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has reportedly barred several banks from using its payment gateway for debit card transactions, Financial Express reported on Friday. This move was taken as the banks refused to share a portion of the convenience fees they earned on customer transactions with IRCTC.


Many travellers prefer to book their tickets online, making IRCTC website one of the busiest portals. Currently, the portal only allows cardholders of Indian Overseas Bank, Canara Bank, United Bank of India, Indian Bank, Central Bank of India, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank to buy tickets using debit cards.


An email sent to IRCTC remained unanswered, according to the Financial Express report.


Earlier this year, IRCTC had asked the lenders to share half the convenience fees they collected. Indian Banks' Association (IBA) is in the process of resolving the issue.


After the implementation of demonetisation, IRCTC had waived off the convenience fee of Rs 20 it was charging customers who book tickets online. A senior State Bank of India (SBI) official, which accounted for 35 per cent of all transactions and has been removed from the payment gateway, told Financial Express, "Every day, we are losing 50,000 transactions. Normally, the merchant pays (convenience fee to) the acquiring bank. But, since IRCTC does not pay us, we were recovering our costs from customers and that is how it had been all these years.”

Banks have claimed that government orders after demonetisation mandate public sector units, including IRCTC, to bear the cost of providing online payments to customers, called a Merchant Discount Rate. Lenders refusing to comply with IRCTC's demand say they are doing so as it violates the principles of merchant-acquiring business.

Recently, IRCTC sent out an alert on its website telling customers to select 'multiple payment service' tab to have more credit card, debit card and internet banking payment options.

Currently, customers can pay for the tickets they are buying using e-wallets, which do not charge any convenience fees to the parties.


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