Airtel rolls out payments bank, to invest Rs 3,000 crore
Sunil Bharti Mittal-led Bharti Enterprises on Thursday officially launched Airtel Payments Bank, which is being rolled out across the country with n investment of Rs 3,000 crore.
The Payments Bank, which was already providing services in Rajasthan and southern states on pilot basis, was launched by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
"As more and more telecom companies enter into the fray, I think we will hopefully, see competition not only amongst telecom companies which we read a lot about these days, but probably see a competition between conventional and new mode
of banking," Jaitley said at the launch.
Speaking at the launch, Mittal said that just as mobile telephony leapfrogged traditional telecom networks to take affordable telecom services deep into the country, Airtel Payments Bank aims to take digital banking services to the unbanked over their mobile phones in a quick and efficient manner.
"With Airtel Payments Bank, we are starting another important chapter in our journey, with the potential to truly transform lives and contribute to financial inclusion in the country," Mittal said.
Airtel first started its payments bank pilot in Rajasthan across 10,000 retail outlets on November 23, 2016, and later rolled out pilot services in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Mittal added that Bharti holds 80 per cent stake in the payments bank, while the rest is held by Kotak Mahindra Bank. "We have invested around Rs 1,000 crore. We are looking at total investment of Rs 3,000 crore over a period of time.
We will look at getting some more equity partners but there is no immediate plan as of now," Mittal said.
He also said that Bharti retail outlets will be used as touch points for the payments bank and within Airtel, a target has been set to convert 100 million of the 270 million customers to Airtel bank account.
Mobile numbers of Airtel customers opening account in the payments bank will become their account number.
"We have been running pilot across four states and after demonetisation, response has been heartening," Mittal said.
Airtel Payments Bank Managing Director and CEO Shashi Arora said that the bank will look at reaching out to customers across 6 lakh retail outlets in a year.
"We are starting operations with 2.5 lakh outlets," Arora said.
The payments bank will offer interest of 7.25 per cent per annum to attract customers.
Customers having Airtel payment bank account will be able to transfer money to any bank or mobile wallet.
"There will be no charge on money transferred between Airtel to Airtel account," Arora said.
He also said that people can open their Airtel Bank account in just three minutes with help of Aadhaar.
"There will be no need to submit paper documents. People only need to share their Aadhaar number for customer verification. We are also taking PAN number which in the back-end gets validated from NSDL," Arora said.
Expressing satisfaction that digitisation is expanding at a much faster space than anticipated, Jaitley said transformation of post offices into a bank will be the next revolution.
"In the context of demonetisation, the obvious attempt was that the extent of the paper currency must be replaced by digitised economy...this expansion is going to take place much faster than any commentators anticipated and the reasons are very obvious," he said after launching Airtel Payments Bank here.
"People do realise that paper currency and excessive use of paper currency is to the larger detriment of any society. In fact, one of the great advantages of what has been going on is India's move towards less cash economy," he said.
He also noted that the new generation in India take to emerging technologies and techniques quite easily.
(With PTI inputs)