India's largest telco, Airtel, has announced the national launch of the country's first mobile payments bank.
Airtel is one of the first new entrants to take advantage of the Indian government's push to accelerate financial inclusion and inject competition into the market through the provision of special 'payments bank' licences.
These new players, taking on traditional lenders, are 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.
Following a soft launch in November across the state of Rajasthan, Airtel says the bank is now live in all 29 states of India. The iOS and Android app is supplemented by Airtel's physical presence in 25,000 stores across the sub-continent.
The company says that over 1 million customers joined the network during the pilot phase, taking advantage of headline grabbing interest rates of 7.25% per annum on savings account deposits, airtime rewards and free insurance offerings.
Airtel will be joined in the market next month by mobile wallet operator Paytm, which was granted a payments bank license by the Reserve bank of India earlier this month.