The Tata Group has taken over State Bank of India’s (SBI) bid for setting up a New Umbrella Entity (NUE), which will have functions similar to the state-owned National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
Earlier reports had indicated that SBI’s proposal for setting up an NUE with HDFC Bank and Bank of Baroda, was flagged by the finance ministry, as it felt a state-owned bank’s involvement in an NUE could limit the success potential of NPCI’s many projects for financial inclusion, not to mention kick up a ‘conflict of interest’ conundrum, since SBI has a 7.47% stake in NPCI.
According to ET, which first reported the development, Tata Group will promote the proposed NUE through its subsidiary Ferbine Pvt Ltd and is expected to hold the majority stake. Airtel Digital will buy a 10% stake in Ferbine while HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra reportedly have a 9.9% stake each in the venture. Mastercard and Nasper-backed PayU are also part of the consortium.
NUEs will be allowed to set up, manage and operate new payment systems, especially in the retail space, comprising but not limited to regular and white-label ATMs, point-of-sale (PoS) devices and Aadhaar-based payments and remittance services.
They have been envisaged, not as rivals to incumbent NPCI, but entities that will complement NPCI’s efforts towards enhancing access to digital payments.
An NUE license would be a step in the right direction for Tata Group, which has aggressive ‘super app’ ambitions. So far, the conglomerate’s digital venture Tata Digital operates ecommerce platform Tata CLiQ, online grocery store StarQuik and online electronics platform Croma. The company is reportedly in the final stages of a deal for acquiring online grocery unicorn BigBasket.
Besides Tata Group, this week, Amazon reportedly partnered with ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Visa, among others, to submit a proposal to RBI for setting up an NUE, while Paytm and Ola tied up with IndusInd Bank to apply for the license.