Bharti Airtel launches payments JV in India

James Pearce
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Airtel Payments Bank is part of a $440 million JV with Kotak Mahindra Bank and offers payment services across 29 states

Bharti Airtel has launched its payments joint venture today, going live in 29 states across India.

Airtel Payments Bank sees the Indian operator partner with Kotak Mahindra Bank, spending Rs3,000 crore ($440 million) to build a pan-India banking network and payments ecosystem.

The joint venture, which is 80:20 owned in Airtel’s favour, was launched by finance minister Arun Jaitley, along with Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal and Kotak Mahindra Bank MD Uday Kotak. The APB will be led by Shashi Arora, who was also at the launch

Airtel Bank became the first entity of its kind to receive a payments licence from the Reserve Bank of India in Aprile, 2016. It then launched a pilot across 10,000 retail outlets in Rajasthan in November, gaining more than 10,000 within the first two days.

Airtel owns more than 250,000 retail stores across India, while it will also be offered by five million merchants in the country, one million of which are already signed up.

Mittal said:  “With Airtel Payments Bank, we are starting another important chapter in our journey, with the potential to truly transform lives and contribute to financial inclusion in the country. 

“Just like mobile telephony leapfrogged traditional telecom networks to take affordable telecom services deep into the country, Airtel Payments Bank aims to take digital banking services to the unbanked over their mobile phones in a quick and efficient manner. Millions of Indians in rural areas will get their first formal banking experience with Airtel Payments Bank.

“We are fully committed to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s call to build a Digital India and lay a strong foundation for India’s transition to a cashless economy. Airtel Payments Bank will invest towards building a vast digital payments ecosystem with millions of merchants, and allow customers to make convenient cashless payments for good and services with their mobile phones.”