Aimed at testing systems and processes ahead of a full-scale pan-India launch, Airtel Payments Bank has rolled out a pilot of its banking services in Rajasthan, a company statement said here on Wednesday.
Airtel Payments Bank is a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel. The bank will offer interest rate of 7.25 percent per annum on deposits in savings accounts.
The company said 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 banking services.
"With this, Airtel Bank becomes the first payments bank in the country to go live. Airtel Bank will commence the pilot with banking points at 10,000 Airtel retail outlets (in Rajasthan)," the statement added.
At a time when the country is grappling with the demonetisation drive, the company said a wide network of merchants (sellers/shops) across Rajasthan will accept digital payments from Airtel Payments Bank from day one. It will offer customers the convenience of cashless purchase of goods and services through their mobile phones in a quick and secure manner.
"Airtel 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," the statement added.
On April 11 2016, Airtel Payments Bank (which began operations in 2011 as Airtel M-Commerce Services) received a payments bank licence from the Reserve Bank of India. Kotak Mahindra Bank has acquired 19.90 percent stake in Airtel Payments Bank for around Rs. 98.8 crores in February 2016.
"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," said Shashi Arora, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank.
The payment banks will cater to the needs of small savings accounts, remittance services, low income households, small businesses and other unorganised sector entities.
"This initiative, perfectly in sync with Prime Minister's vision for financial inclusion and Digital India, will be a boon to residents in far flung areas who are yet to have access to formal banking. I look forward to Airtel reaching every corner of Rajasthan," said Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
Airtel Payments' Bank's services can be accessed by Airtel customers on their mobile phones through the Airtel Money app.
Highlights about the bank: