Centrum-BharatPe\'s Unity Small Finance Bank starts operations
Photo Credit: Reuters

Unity Small Finance Bank Ltd (Unity Bank), promoted by Centrum Financial Services Ltd and Resilient Innovations Pvt. Ltd (BharatPe), commenced banking operations from Monday, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said. 

This will also be a step towards resolution of financially-troubled Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank, which got the central bank’s approval to be acquired by Centrum and BharatPe in June this year. 

“Having complied with all requisite regulatory approvals, the bank has begun operations in record time, with a quick turnaround from the RBI’s approval received on October 12, 2021," Unity Bank said. 

The SFB commences operations with a capital infusion of approximately Rs 1,100 crore, total assets of about Rs 2,400 crore, active customer base of over two lakhs, and 145 offices including a branch in Centrum House in Mumbai. 

Founded by Centrum, the small business lending arm of the Centrum Group, and Resilient, parent of fintech lender BharatPe, “Unity Bank will be a digital first bank with a business model of collaboration and open architecture, uniting all its stakeholders to deliver a seamless digital experience”, the bank said. 

Early this month, the RBI had given an in-principle the small finance bank (SFB) licence to the consortium of Centrum and BharatPe the companies said in a statement. 

Both the entities will be an equal joint venture partner in the bank. 

“We aim to make it a truly New Age Bank. The Bank is well capitalized, significantly higher than the minimum regulatory requirement, giving us the platform to build a robust technological infrastructure, hire the best talent and work with credible vendor partners..,” said Jaspal Bindra, executive chairman, Centrum Group. 

Ashneer Grover, co-founder and managing director, BharatPe, said, “We are committed to work tirelessly to build India’s first truly Digital Bank. With the capitalisation and approvals in place, we will now focus on building tech-first products that will redefine the way India banks.” 

Recently, in August, BharatPe raised $370 million in a primary and secondary mix, as a part of a Series E funding round led by new investor New York-based Tiger Global Management. The round valued BharatPe at $2.85 billion, giving a threefold growth in valuation in six months. 

The new funds were raised to capitalise the distressed PMC Bank with its takeover. 

After RBI’s approval in June, Ashneer Grover, co-founder and managing director of BharatPe told Mint that it will collectively infuse $250-300 million (or up to Rs 2,224 crore) in PMC Bank with Centrum, over the next two years.

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