Leading banks, including ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank, have waived merchant discount rate (MDR) on debit cards till December 31 to facilitate payments by customers following government's move to do away with the charge levied on merchants. Country's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank announced waiving the MDR on debit card transactions at all merchants serviced by its merchant acquiring arm ICICI Merchant Services IMSL. It said the waiver would be effective till December 31. Current regulations allow up to a 2 percent MDR, which is considered by many as an impediment to electronification of transactions. The financial services industry justifies the charge saying there is a cost of setting up the infrastructure, including the point of sale machine and the switch at the backend. Country's second largest private lender HDFC Bank also announced a similar move through Twitter, saying payments on RuPay, Mastercard and Visa debit cards will be at zero MDR. Third largest private lender Axis Bank, which has one of the largest POS networks, also announced a similar waiver till December 31. It has also enabled local kirana stores, autorickshaws, vegetable & milk vendors and other small ticket size vendors to accept payment digitally through QR code which will offer convenience to customers and facilitate small vendors to make cashless transactions, a statement said. Axis Bank has also deployed micro ATM facility for cash withdrawal across corporates, police, airports and housing societies, it added. Announcing a waiver of MDR, Yes Bank said it has recalibrated 500 ATMs till now to accept the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 banknotes. State-run UCO Bank's managing director and chief executive R K Takkar said it has also waived the MDR for all cards. Banking major SBI last week waived MDR on RuPay cards. Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das had announced earlier in the day that each bank will announce its moves individually. "The MDR (merchant discount rate) charges on use of debit cards, the charges being levied by banks and the switching charges will stand completely waived. So, there will be no charge on use of debit cards," he had said.
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