Bharti Airtel eyes payment bank licence with Kotak

Bharti Airtel would apply to the Reserve Bank of India for a licence and Kotak Mahindra Bank will acquire 19.90 per cent stake in it.
Bharti Airtel eyes payment bank licence with Kotak

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel would apply to the Reserve Bank of India for a licence and Kotak Mahindra Bank will acquire 19.90 per cent stake in it, the company said.

The move may allow the phone operator to open small savings accounts and accept deposits of as much as Rs 1 lakh per person, in partnership with Kotak Mahindra Bank, say media reports.

Currently, AMSL, wholly owned subsidiary, offers mobile money services under the brand name Airtel Money. It is seeking to convert its existing prepaid payment instrument licence into a payments bank licence.

'The RBI guidelines provide an exciting and challenging opportunity for an entity like us to contribute in a meaningful manner to drive financial inclusion,' Bharti Airtel MD and CEO (India and South Asia) Gopal Vittal said.

According to the RBI's guidelines, a scheduled commercial bank can take up to 30 per cent stake in a payment bank. But, if a bank's share exceeds 20% then it would be considered as co-promoter. In this scenario, getting a payment bank license would be difficult.

“Payment banks have the potential to leapfrog India’s financial inclusion agenda. Basic but critical services such as small savings accounts, remittances, etc., will bring a large number of low-income households and small businesses under the formal banking network,” said Dipak Gupta, joint managing director, Kotak Mahindra Bank.

In the meanwhile, negotiations are on between Vodafone and YES Bank, and Future Group and IDFC, Oxigen Services, a prepaid instrument player, has signed a memorandum of understanding with RBL Bank (previously known as Ratnakar Bank).

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