The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has moved a Cabinet note on India Post’s payment bank proposal and is likely to seek the approval of the Union Cabinet this month. India Post’s payment bank is slated for a March 2017 launch.
“The postal department’s payment bank will be a game changer for financial inclusion. Several international and national consortiums for third party services are keen to partner with us. Deutsche Bank, Citi Bank, Barclays, Templeton and all the banks of India and all mutual funds and insurance companies, except LIC, for third party delivery, are willing to partner,” Minister of Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad told The Indian Express.
The domestic players in the fray for partnering India Post include NABARD, HSBC, Allahabad Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Kotak Life Insurance, HDFC, PNB Metlife, ICICI Lombard, ICICI Prudential, and Bajaj Allianz, while the international ones, apart from Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Citi and Templeton, include Transport USA for renting solutions, Western Union, ClearSecurity and Japan’s Hitachi.
These companies have approached the postal department for partnering on banking products, banking solutions, consultancy, banking correspondents, physical security products, ATMs and digital payment services. In August 2015, the Reserve Bank of India had granted in-principle approval to 11 applicants to set up payments banks, including India Post.
On Wednesday, the officials of the postal department apprised Prasad of the situation on its payment bank. As a prerequisite, Prasad said: “I have noted that the personnel must be properly trained to use the infrastructure,” he said. He also said that the India Post was in process of modernising its infrastructure to suit the growing needs of its customers. He informed that the department had 913 automated teller machines (ATMs) currently, against only four in 2014.
As of date, Prasad said, 20,644 post offices were enabled with core-banking solutions (CBS), against 230 as of June 2014. CBS-enabled post offices allow customers to access their postal savings from any of the branches where the facility is available.
Implementation of CBS is part of the government’s plan for IT Modernisation Project of the Department of Posts, which aims to bring in various IT solutions with the required infrastructure to the post offices.