Indian National Card Numbering Scheme

The proposed Indian National Card Numbering Scheme is compliant with International card numbering scheme and also will empower India to control and issue card numbers without being dependent on any International agencies. The Indian National Card Numbering Scheme will enable any card issued in India to be transacted Internationally.

RBI has issued guidelines for pre-paid payment instrument, under the Payment and Settlement Act 2007.  Here is the list of authorized payment systems in India (updated Jan 2011); As of date only one Telecom operator, Airtel, has been issued license for pre-paid payment instrument. But, soon every Telecom operator will go for a license. 

In its guidelines document, RBI defines four categories of pre-paid instruments:
  • Closed: These are the pre-paid charge cards issues by Telcos, commonly known as top-up cards.
  • Semin Closed: These instruments allows for paying for goods in pre-defined establishments having explicit agreement to accept the card with the Telco.
  • Semi Open: These instruments can be used in any establishment accepting Credit or Debit Cards. But no cash can be withdrawn from ATM.
  • Open: These cards can be used in any establishment as well as cash can be withdrawn from ATM.    
The Telecom operators can only apply for Closed and Semi-Closed payment instruments. Thus Telcos are forming 51-49 Joint Ventures with Banking Institutions to overcome this limitation.  In near future, all Telecom operators will have Open payment instruments. Therefore, in order to be able to transact globally, we need to be compatible with International card naming convention.  
As a concerned Citizen of India, I propose the following numbering scheme, that will enable easy routing of financial transactions through multilateral payment systems:

The 16 digit numbering plan is proposed as:
9-91-X-YY-NNNNNNNNN-C 
The first digit '9' stands for National Numbering. Next to digits are fixed as '91', which stands for India. Next digits, represented by the variable X is the top level routing domain identifier. The following two digits, represented as Y, is the secondary routing table index number. Next 9 digits, represented by the variable N, are to be issued by the respective payment system. The last digit, represented by the variable C, is the check sum computed using the Luhn Algorithm.

Top level routing domain identifier

Variable X: the top level routing domain identifier. 
X=0 is reserved.
X=1 for the the Central Counter Party register of RBI . Example: 9-91-1-YY-NNNNNNNNN-C. As of Jan 2011, there are 37 entries in the RBI Central Counter Party Register. 
X=2 for Department of Post e-payments.
X=3 for NABARD gateway for Co-operative Banks e-payment systems, also known as Kisan Credit Cards.
X=9 for mobile number based and MNP (Mobile Number Portability) enabled routing.
Rest of these numbers are open for future use.

This top level routing domain identifier should be maintained by RBI and its administration can be delegated to NPCI

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) Enabled Financial Transaction Routing

Pattern : 9-91-99-Z(10)-C(1) that is : 9-91-99-ZZZZZZZZZZ-C example 9919998104723291
The last checksum digit C, is computed using Luhn Algorithm by: doubling every alternate digit and adding all the digit recursively till a single digit is arrived at.
Here is how :
In the number 9919998104723291, The last digit is 1, that is C=1 because:
991999810472329C
9     9     1     9    9      9    8  1  0  4  7  2  3  2  9
9+(1+8)+1+(1+8)+9+(1+8)+8+2+0+8+7+4+3+4+9 = 91. => 1+9 = 10.  => 1+0 = 1
Thus C=1
or
9919998104723291
   
This is a mobile number 9810472329 is mapped to the 16 digit card as 9919998104723291.

When a mobile prepaid account holder transacts with a PoS (Point of Sales) terminal, the 16 digit number corresponding to the 10 digit mobile number is entered into the PoS terminal, either manually or through a magnetic card or a contact-less Smart Card. This transaction reaches the FTS (Financial Transaction Switch) operated by any of the 37 RBI licensees, based on the first 3 digits, it will be identified as the Indian National Card Number and therefore be routed to NPCI. The NPCI Transaction router, will then look into the next two digit, 4 & 5, and identify it as a MNP enabled payment mobile pre-paid payment instrument. And, route the transaction to the Mobile Payment Gateway. Here the cached  MNP database will be consulted to identify the mobile operator and the transaction will be routed to the mobile operator's financial transaction switch. 
   

Central Counter Party Register Enabled Financial Transaction Routing 

Pattern: 9-91-1-YY-NNNNNNNNN-C  or 9-91-1-Y(2)-N(9)-C example 9911200123456783 for SBI issued card.
Using this Indian National Card Numbering Scheme SBI has now the freedom and the independence to issue and manage the issued card numbers for both debit, credit and pre-paid cards without paying any royalties to any International agencies or Multinational Companies and yet any SBI card holder will be empowered to transact internationally. 

In this example: 9911200123456783, the card acquirer checks the first three digits to identify this card as Indian National Card, the fourth digit identifies it as the Central Counter Party Register number scheme.  
The two digits, 20 in this case, identifies it as SBI from the serial number of the Central Counter Party register of RBI. The transaction is then routed to SBI payment gateway, either directly if the acquirer has direct connectivity to SBI gateway or indirectly through NPCI NFS (National Financial Switch). The following 9 digits are controlled by SBI and the last digit is the checksum computed using Luhn algorithm described above. 

Aadhaar Based Financial Transaction

On 6-Jan-2011 UIDAI and NPCI entered into MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for NPCI to provide Finacial Transaction Switch for UIDAI (Aadhaar) based Financial Inclusion banking for Below the Poverty Line (BPL) Resident Indians. The Aadhaar is a 12 digit number, 1st digit being the implicit version number and the last digit being checksum computed using  Verhoeff Algorithm

We can assume that a Below the Poverty Line resident will not be transacting Internationally, and thus only nationally routable card number is sufficient. 
Thus the following number scheme is proposed:

Pattern 9-00-A(12)-C  or 9-00-AAAAAAAAAAAA-C   

The card acquirer in India, will check the first three digits to know that its an Aadhaar linked primary payment instrument and will route it to NPCI for further routing. NPCI will forward the transaction to the Banking provider associated with the Aadhaar ID. The routing mechanism will be similar to that is explained for the MNP enabled financial transaction routing.

 

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