Telcos and tech firms get Indian payment bank licences

Telcos and tech firms get Indian payment bank licences

In a move designed to boost financial inclusion, the Reserve Bank of India has given "in-principle" approval to 11 applicants - including telcos, tech firms and the country's postal service - seeking to set up so-called payments banks.

Payment banks will be able to take deposits of up to Rs 1 lakh, issue debit and ATM cards, and facilitate online transactions, but are not allowed to lend money.

The RBI says that it received 41 applications, granting in-principle approval to 11 firms which now have 18 months to meet regulations before getting full licenses. More applicants are expected to be approved in the future.

Among the successful bidders are telcos Vodafone M-Pesa and Bharti Airtel, tech firms Fino PayTech and Tech Mahindra, the Department of Posts, and Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of m-commerce outfit Paytm.

India has around 870 million mobile subscribers but just 450 million bank account holders and the RBI says that the "selected applicants have the reach and the technological and financial strength to service hitherto excluded customers across the country".

Comments: (6)

Balasubramaniam Gd
Balasubramaniam Gd - DBS - singapore 20 August, 2015, 02:10Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

How will these 11 move into the underbanked and underserved in India with specefic limitations on operations and lending ? It will be interesting to see the early movers in this space to integrate technology with Banking for the common man,Indias population are still out there in the smaller out reach locations I think India Posts will have a good solid chance when compared to others where most of their offices are in the outreach locations.

Subhabrata Sanyal
Subhabrata Sanyal - Capgemini - Pune 20 August, 2015, 06:57Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Success of Payment Banks will depend on developing new payment service offerings for their targeted customer sector. Traditional service offerings provided by Traditional Banks will probably not give them their Return of Investments. New service offerings emerging around P2P money transfers, collections, Bill payments etc. can be expected.

Varadarajan Ca
Varadarajan Ca - FSS - Chennai 20 August, 2015, 07:19Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Good move. I am not sure how the rural sector of India will be benefitted by these moves. This is a good chance for the postal team to prove their real potential in terms of reaching the Indian mass.

I believe RBI should perform a Research using IIM/IIT groups in rural sector taking sample of few hundreds of villages, understanding their real pain points, etc. and create regulations supporting them.

A healthy competition can be expected in banking sector by including the telcos and tech firms. My best wishes to these new groups.

Jim Wells
Jim Wells - Wellspring Consulting International - Fort Lauderdale 20 August, 2015, 13:14Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

India's Reserve Bank demonstrates that dramatic break-throughs in expanding financial service access to disenfranchised consumers are possible when sovereign governments focus on the needs of non-traditional consumers rather than profits of traditional banks. 

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 20 August, 2015, 16:33Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

From personal experience with 2 of the 11 companies granted payments bank license, Vodafone MPESA and PAYTM, both "take deposits, convey remittances & dispense payments" as Economic Times summarized the remit of payments banks. Not sure what else the new payments bank license would empower them to do apart from raising the deposit amount to INR 1L. Both of them having been trying to replace plastic with mobile form factor - albeit on the existing card rails - so I doubt if they'd rush to launch debit and credit cards now.

@Varadarajan CA: Not sure if it's public knowledge but I know from my alma mater circles that RBI's payments committee does include a professor from the maths department of IIT Bombay.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 11 April, 2016, 15:55Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I suppose this is good signal to Telcos in other countries! I suppose it could become very important step for non-banking financial service development in the country! Telcos get everithing they need to become "a bank" - users, acounting systems, knowledge how to transfer money from one to other user, etc. Why they cannot become "paiment and financial service banks"?