Payments banks: With India Post getting RBI nod, India’s biggest bank for poor is in the making


i. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has chosen just 11 out of 41 applicants to set up payments banks in the country. Payments banks are institutions that will offer most of the banking services except loans and credit card products to retail customers. Customers can deposit money up to Rs 1 lakh in these banks, transfer money, make payments and buy financial products such as insurance and mutual funds.

ii. The 11 names include India’s postal department, two telecom players (Airtel and Vodafone), three large corporate houses (Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Aditya Birla Nuvo and Tech Mahindra), two financial services firms (Fino Paytech and Cholamandalam), two individual entrepreneurs (Dilip Sahnghvi and Vijay Sharma) and National Securities Depository Ltd, a surprise winner.
iii. The names that are absent in the list are equally notable. These include Kishore Biyani of Big Bazaar, George Muthoot of Muthoot Financial Services, prepaid payment instrument issuers (PPIs) such as Oxigen and Itz cash and few other mobile payment services such as My mobile payments, Pay Point and One MobiKwik Systems.
iv. The postal department, which failed to get into the list of full service banks when the RBI gave permits to IDFC and Bandhan in April 2014, has been trying for long to get into the banking business. The department has begun to set up ATMs and connect its offices through core banking solution network. The post expects to connect about 25,000 branches under CBS in next one year.
v. Since payments banks do not require huge amount of capital (the initial capital requirement set by the RBI for these banks is Rs 100 crore as against Rs 500 crore for full-service banks), India Post will not have to struggle much to seek the capital assistance from the finance ministry, which, in the past, had opposed India Post’s plan to become a full-service banks citing higher capital requirement and lack of experience in offering credit. But, this time, capital shouldn’t be an issue.

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