The government's postal department will apply for a licence to enter mainstream banking, a communications ministry official said on Thursday, the latest to join a host of companies vying for the permits.

The Reserve Bank of India, in an effort to improve access to banking services, issued guidelines in February allowing any type of company to set up a bank. The deadline for submitting applications is July 1.

The postal department, part of the ministry of communications and information technology, has a network of more than 150,000 post offices across the country, with close to 90 percent of those located in rural areas.

Indian post offices already offer savings schemes and sell insurance and mutual funds. The department has long been mulling over whether it should enter the banking services sector.

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