Airtel’s Mobile Payment Bank Now Available Nationwide In India

Airtel, the largest telecom provider in India, announced Thursday (Jan. 12) the national launch of a mobile payments bank, which, according to a report, is India’s first one.

According to the report, Airtel is taking advantage of a big push by the Indian government to accelerate financial inclusion and bring more competition to the market by issuing payment bank licenses. The new entrants can take deposits, issue debit and ATM cards and enable online transactions. The report noted the new bank upstarts can’t lend money.

Airtel did a soft launch of its mobile payments bank in November in the state of Rajasthan. Now, the service is live in 29 states in the country. The service comes via an iOS and Android app, and Airtel said more than 1 million customers joined the network during the pilot. The customers were lured by interest rates of 7.25 percent on savings account deposits, as well as airtime rewards and free insurance offers from service providers. The report noted Paytm will launch its own mobile bank in February.

Paytm, the leading mobile pay firm in India, announced Tuesday (Jan. 3) that it received permission from the Reserve Bank of India to formally launch Paytm Payments Bank.

In a blog post announcing the new initiative, Paytm said: “At Paytm Payments Bank, our aim is to build a new business model in [the] banking industry, focused on bringing financial services to hundreds of millions of unserved or underserved Indians. With [the] power of technology and innovation at scale, we aim to become a benchmark in [the] world of banking.”

The company said receiving the license gives it a chance to create something Indians will be “proud of,” noting that Paytm plans to follow three principles: “No fear, no greed and no entitlement.”