Vodafone, Airtel get nod for payment banks from RBI

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) gave approval for 11 entities, including telecoms like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone to set up payment banks. These banks can accept deposits and remittances, but will not advance loans.

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Vodafone India finds this as an opportunity to accelerate India’s journey into cashless economy. “We are grateful to the RBI for giving us the license for setting up a payment bank. With over 90,000 ‘M-Pesa’ agents, we are already providing people in remote areas a convenient way to, transfer money and make payments in a safe and secure manner. We have partnered with several government bodies to run pilots for enabling direct transfer of wages/subsidies. The payment bank license will enable us to build on this further and offer a more comprehensive portfolio of banking and financial products and services, accelerating India’s journey into a cashless economy,” responded Sunil Sood, MD & CEO, Vodafone India.

“We remain committed to actualize the government’s vision of financial inclusion by leveraging the reach of mobile technology to service the unbanked and underserviced sections of the society,” he added.

Bharti Airtel sees this as an opportunity to bring millions of unbanked Indians into banking folds. “We thank the Reserve Bank of India for granting the payments bank licence to Airtel M Commerce Services Limited. We are confident that this move will play a pivotal role in bringing millions of unbanked Indians into the folds of banking,” an Airtel spokesperson said in a statement.

Airtel Money, launched in 2011, was the first mobile based pre-paid payment instrument service in the country.

India Post, Reliance Industries Ltd., Aditya Birla Nuvo, Tech Mahindra, Sun Pharma, National Securities Depository Ltd., Cholamandalam Distribution Services Ltd., Fino PayTech Ltd. and Paytm are the other entities that received nod from RBI to operate payment banks. An external advisory committee of RBI that submitted its report on July 6 selected the entities.

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