Aircel may approach RBI for payments bank licence

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Aircel plans to approach the Reserve Bank of India for a payment bank licence after completing the merger of Reliance Communications’ wireless business with itself.

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According to ET Telecom, the company also proposes to convert all its post-merger data customers into users of its mobile wallet over the next two to three years. Aircel, owned by Malaysia’s Maxis Group, operates its mobile wallet through subsidiary Aircel Smart Money, which will be integrated with the Unified Payments Interface within a few weeks, enabling payments to be made directly from a customer’s bank account.

Aircel, like leading carriers Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, has had a mobile wallet or financial payments system since 2015, although with a limited base of users. About 35 per cent of Aircel’s 91 million customers – primarily in Jammu & Kashmir and the southern and eastern states – use data and of them, 10 per cent are wallet users.

The RBI started payment banks to widen the availability of financial services in the country. While such banks can’t lend, they can accept deposits, issue ATM/debit cards, offer payment and remittance services, and distribute simple financial products like mutual fund units and insurance products.

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