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Monday, November 17, 2014

Payment bank rules by month-end, telcos, India Post remain frontrunners: RBI

MUMBAI: India Post and mobile companies have a good chance of getting a payments  bank licence, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which is expected to  come out with detailed guidelines by the end of the month. Besides, successful   microfinance  institutions may get a chance to migrate to commercial banking.

The  state-run India Post was denied a licence in the first round of the recent  licencing scheme. "We visualise mobile companies, but also companies with a  large rural presence... maybe shops, maybe kiosks, but as well as possibly post  office that would come into the payment bank licencing scheme," Raghuram Rajan,  governor, RBI, said at a conclave on microfinance organised by agricultural
lender Nabard.

The guidelines are now with the government for comments.  "In the weeks to come, we will put out guidelines on new entities called payment banks,  which will basically offer accounts to the excluded," Rajan said.

RBI also expects to give licences to small finance banks. Instead of having  local area banks focussed on two or three districts, there are suggestions that  there should be all-India small finance banks which are focused on small lending  though they would be allowed to accept deposits. "This licence would offer  avenue... should allow successful microfinance institutions to migrate towards a  banking licence without abandoning the core business of working with the small  and the excluded," the governor  said. Rajan, however, warned the microfinance lenders against usurious lending  practices and was also critical of the loan waiver practices of certain state  governments.

Several entities, including Nabard, have expressed interest  in setting up banks. "We would be keen to look at it closely and consider it as  an option if the guidelines permit," said Nabard chairman Harsh Kumar Bhanwala.

Nabard is keen to seek a banking licence through its subsidiary NABFINs, a non-banking finance company with a  focus on the bottom of the pyramid.

"We still want to be a fullfledged  bank. The government will decide whether they want to give to us or not," said  Pradipta Kumar Bisoi, chief postmaster general of Maharashtra circle, at an  event in Mumbai.

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