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Airtel Payments Bank, a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, on Wednesday rolled out a pilot of its banking services in Rajasthan, becoming the first payments bank to go live in the country.
“Customers in towns and villages in Rajasthan would now be able to open bank accounts at Airtel retail outlets, which would act as Airtel banking points and offer a range of convenient banking services,” the firm said.
“With this pilot, we have taken a big step towards the launch of our banking services and would be testing our operational readiness for full-scale launch across India”, said Shashi Arora, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank
The launch comes at a time when the government is making a determined push for a cashless economy through demonetisation of high-value currencies.
Airtel Bank would commence the pilot with banking points at 10,000 Airtel retail outlets. The pilot is aimed at testing systems and processes ahead of a pan-India launch.
“A wide network of merchants (sellers/shops) in Rajasthan would accept digital payments from Airtel Bank, offering customers the convenience of cashless purchase of goods and services through their mobile phones in a quick and secure manner,” it said.
It plans to expand its merchant network in Rajasthan to 100,000 by the year-end, giving a boost to the digital payments ecosystem.
The banking points would offer bank account opening services, cash deposit and withdrawal facilities. Elaborating on the digital and paperless bank, the firm said, account opening would be quick and paperless using Aadhaar based e-KYC.
“The customer’s Airtel mobile number would be his/her bank account number. The interest rate of 7.25 per cent per annum (would apply) on deposits in savings accounts,” it said.
It would allow money transfer to any bank account in India and free money transfer from Airtel to Airtel numbers within the Airtel Bank. It is also offering personal accidental insurance of Rs 1 lakh with every savings account.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said, “This initiative, perfectly in sync with Prime Minister's vision for financial inclusion and Digital India, will be a boon for residents in far-flung areas who are yet to have access to formal banking.”
In April 2016, Airtel Bank became the first entity in India to receive a payments bank licence from the Reserve Bank of India. It plans to leverage Bharti Airtel’s extensive national distribution network of 1.5 million retail outlets, with penetration in rural areas.