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Airtel Debuts India’s First Payments Bank – Beats Paytm To The Punch On Day 15 Of Demonetisation

Airtel Debuts India’s First Payments Bank – Beats Paytm To The Punch On Day 15 Of Demonetisation

While Paytm is busy registering massive downloads, on account of more and more people taking to digital transactions courtesy the ongoing demonetisation drive, Airtel has beaten it to the punch to launch the pilot of its Payments Bank Limited (“Airtel Bank”) in Rajasthan. The pilot is aimed at testing systems and processes ahead of a full-scale country-wide launch.

With this, Airtel Bank becomes the first payments bank in the country to go live. Customers in towns and villages across Rajasthan will now be able to open bank accounts at Airtel retail outlets, which will also act as Airtel banking points and offer a range of basic, convenient banking services. Airtel Bank will commence the pilot with banking points at 10,000 Airtel retail outlets. The bank is fully digital and paperless.

Shashi Arora, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank stated, With this pilot, we have taken a big step towards the launch of our banking services and will be testing our operational readiness for full-scale launch across India. We would also like to use feedback from our customers to further improve our processes and look forward to serving them.”

A wide network of merchants (sellers/shops) across Rajasthan will accept digital payments from Airtel Bank allowing customers the convenience of cashless purchase of goods and services via their mobile phones. Airtel Bank plans to expand its merchant network in Rajasthan to 100,000 by the end of the year.

Key Features Of The Airtel Payments Bank

  • Airtel Banking points will offer bank account opening services and cash deposit & withdrawal facilities.
  • Quick and paperless account opening using Aadhaar based e-KYC. This requires no documents at all, only the customer’s Aadhaar number is needed.
  • Customer’s Airtel mobile number will be his/her bank account number.
  • Bank will offer an interest rate of 7.25 % p.a. on deposits in savings accounts.
  • Allows money transfer to any bank account in India (Free money transfer from Airtel to Airtel numbers within Airtel Bank).
  • Provides for personal accidental insurance of INR 1 Lakh with every savings account.
  • Airtel Bank’s services can be accessed by Airtel customers on their mobile phones through the Airtel Money app, through USSD by dialling *400#; or via a simple IVR by dialling 400.
  • Does not offer ATM/debit card facility, at present. Customers can deposit/withdraw cash at any of the designated Airtel retail outlets.

Airtel Bank’s product portfolio includes payment banking services and semi-closed mobile wallet services (Airtel Money).  The bank plans to leverage Bharti Airtel’s extensive national distribution network of over 1.5 Mn retail outlets, with a deep penetration in rural areas.

The Reserve Bank of India had granted payments bank license to Airtel on April 11 this year. Besides Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Industries, Idea Cellular, Paytm, FINO Paytech, India Post and National Securities Depository Limited have all  received Payments Banks licenses in the direction of greater financial inclusion.

Incidentally, today with the same mission of democratising payments, Paytm has updated its app to launch India’s first APP POS allowing all small and medium merchants to accept all card payments including Rupay, Visa, MasterCard and Maestro.  Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, however, declined to give a timeline on when the Payment Bank, which was supposed to launch around Diwali, will go live.

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