Reliance Industries, which is looking to foray into banking business, has teamed up with State Bank of India (SBI) to apply for a payments bank licence.
This would bring together the nation's largest banking network and pan-India telecom and retail setup.
RIL and SBI put in a joint application to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to set up a payment bank that can offer banking services such as remittances and deposits but not loans.
RIL, however, did not disclose the investment or the board composition of the joint venture.
Monday (February 2, 2015) was the last date of application for these proposed payments banks.
SBI, the country's largest bank, which being a commercial lender could not apply for a payment bank license, will hold 30 per cent in the joint venture. RIL will be the promoter and hold the balance 70 per cent, the company said in a statement.
"The partnership is in accordance with the guidelines for Payments Bank issued by RBI... This partnership brings together the combined strengths of two of India's Fortune500 corporations committed to making a transformative impact on India's financial inclusion landscape," the RIL statement said.
The payments bank will leverage state-run SBI's nationwide distribution network and risk management capabilities along with the substantial investments made by Reliance Industries in its retail and telecom businesses.
"It will deploy state-of-the-art technology, build scalable infrastructure and create extensive branch and business correspondent network in order to provide last-mile access and intuitive user experience to all sections of society," the statement said.
RIL and SBI see the payments bank as an opportunity to promote financial inclusion by providing banking and transaction services to unbanked, underbanked and small businesses, the statement said.
They also see it as an opportunity to lead and co-create an eco-system to provide accessible, simple and affordable banking solutions; digitise payments and act as a catalyst towards a cashless society; and democratise banking and payment services through massive adoption and low transaction costs.
Sources close to RIL said the application was not a step towards setting up of a full-fledged bank as it otherwise would have applied for a banking licence.
RIL has nationwide 4G telecom license and plans to provide telephony and broadband services in all states, 5,000 towns and cities accounting for over 90 per cent of urban India and over 215,000 villages in the country. Also, through 2,300 retail stores across 166 cities its retail venture touches more than 10 lakhs customers a day.
SBI, which has 15,869 branches and 43,515 ATMs, has tied up with over 45,487 business correspondents.
The payments bank would leverage reach, existing customer and Agent base, expertise and knowledge of the two partners, in order to build a pan India payments and banking business for both consumers and small businesses.
Sources said the payments bank will be an independent board managed company with an arm's length relationship with both RIL and SBI.
A professional and competent team will be recruited by the Board. The Board will also ensure that the payments bank is compliant with all RBI regulations and the laws. The Payments Bank however can draw upon the expertise of SBI and RIL as and when the need arises.
Sources said the name of the joint venture would be finalised post receipt of in-principle approval for the payments bank.
RIL and SBI partnership comes close on the heels of the recently-announced Airtel-Kotak joint venture.