India's first Payments Bank commences pilot operations

India's first payments bank has gone live, with Airtel Payments Bank starting pilot services in Rajasthan on Wednesday. The pilot is aimed at testing systems and processes ahead of a full scale pan Indian launch.

Airtel Payments Bank Ltd, a subsidiary of the country's largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel, will commence the pilot with banking points at 10,000 Airtel retail outlets.

"Congratulations to Airtel for making Rajasthan the first state in India to have Airtel Payments Bank. This initiative, perfectly in sync with Hon'ble 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,'' , Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje said.

Customers 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, convenient banking services.

A wide network of merchants (sellers and shops) across Rajasthan will accept digital payments from Airtel Bank from day one, offering customers the convenience of cashless purchase of goods and services via 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, the company said in a statement.

On 11 April Airtel Bank had got a payments bank license from the RBI (See: Airtel's mobile commerce unit gets payments bank licence).

Airtel Bank is a digital and paperless bank, which will offer an interest rate of 7.25 per cent per annum on deposits in savings accounts.

Shashi Arora, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank, said, ''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.''

Airtel Bank's services can be accessed by Airtel customers on their mobile phones through the Airtel Money app, through USSD by dialing *400#; or by dialing 400. Non-Airtel customers can access Airtel Bank's services by dialing 8800688006. Customers can also visit any designated Airtel retail outlet to access services (and not just the outlet where they have opened the account).