Airtel Payments Bank goes live as India’s first payments bank
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

When everyone was expecting Paytm to launch India's first payments bank, Bharti Airtel has quietly floated it. India's biggest telco Bharti Airtel Ltd's payments bank unit went live on Wednesday. 

Airtel Payments Bank Limited said it has rolled out a pilot of its banking services in Rajasthan. "The pilot is aimed at testing systems and processes ahead of a full scale pan Indian launch," the company said in a statement. "With this, Airtel Payments Bank becomes the first payments bank in the country to go LIVE."

According to the company, 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 banking services. Airtel Payments Bank will commence the pilot with banking points at 10,000 Airtel retail outlets.  

Airtel Payments Bank plans to expand its merchant network in Rajasthan to 100,000 by the end of the year, giving a "big boost to digital payments ecosystem."

Airtel Payments Banking points will offer bank account opening services using Aadhaar based e-KYC and cash deposit and withdrawal facilities. Customer, whose Airtel mobile number will be his/her bank account number, will get an interest rate of 7.25% per annum on deposits in savings accounts.

The company added that customers can make free money transfer from Airtel to Airtel numbers within Airtel Payments Bank, and will also get personal accidental insurance of Rs 1 lakh with every savings account. 

Airtel Payments Bank does not offer ATM/Debit Card facility, at present and customers can deposit and withdraw.

Shashi Arora, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank, said, “Airtel Payments Bank will play an important role in taking banking services to the last mile in a quick and efficient manner and benefit millions of unbanked citizens of this country. 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."

Airtel Payments Bank’s services can be accessed by Airtel customers on their mobile phones through the Airtel Money app, through USSD by dialing *400#; or via an IVR by dialling 400. Both the USSD & IVR options are available in Hindi and English language and work on simple feature phones as well. Non Airtel customers can access Airtel Payments Bank’s services by dialling 8800688006. Customers can also visit any designated Airtel retail outlet to access services (and not just the outlet where they have opened the account).

On April 11, 2016, Airtel Payments Bank became the first entity in India to receive a payments bank license from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Other than Airtel, India's largest wallet company Paytm is also expected to launch its payments bank soon. 

Today, in another conference, Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said that he expects the payments bank to go live by December end. Paytm Payments Bank was earlier expected to launch during Diwali. The other applicants for payments bank licence are Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd, Department of Posts, FINO PayTech Ltd, National Securities Depository Ltd, Reliance Industries Ltd, and Vodafone m-pesa Ltd.

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