New Delhi : Enthused by the grant of payments bank licence, the successful applicants said they would launch the services ahead of the 18-month deadline prescribed by the Reserve Bank.

Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, one of the successful applicants, said he would like to start the banking operation ahead of the fixed timeline by the RBI. “We definitely want to launch payment bank much earlier than 18 months. We believe that we can go standalone. We won’t need anybody else as far as money is concerned,” Sharma said.

“With this nod from the RBI we will be able to further drive overall commitment to financial inclusion for the unbanked segment, modernise payment systems and build more trust for our services,” he added. NSDL CEO & MD G V Nageswara Rao said the firm would like “to go alone but keeping options open”. “We don’t have any specific timeline to share with you but the real work starts now,” he said.

It is definitely going to be different niches which different people are going to pick and it will help promote financial inclusion, Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Managing Director Vellayan Subbiah said. Sun Pharma promoter Dilip Shanghvi along with Telenor Group and IDFC, an infrastructure financial institution, applied and emerged successful bidder out of 41 entities.

Vodafone India MD & CEO Sunil Sood said in a statement the licence will enable the firm to build on this further and “offer a more comprehensive portfolio of banking and financial products and services, accelerating India’s journey into a cashless economy”.

Telecom major Airtel in a statement said Airtel M Commerce Services will play a pivotal role in bringing millions of unbanked Indians into the folds of banking.

SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said the Reserve Bank has granted licence to Reliance Industries in which SBI has proposed a 30 per cent stake.    “We see this licence as an opportunity to promote financial inclusion by providing banking and transaction services to unbanked, under-banked and small businesses,” she added.

Consultancy firm PwC’s leader for banking and capital markets Shinjini Kumar said the RBI has gone for deep pockets considering the requirement of higher capital for network expansion and aspirants with already existing client base like telecom operators while selecting the successful candidates.  She said the selection of telcos like Vodafone, Airtel and Aditya Birla group (which runs the Idea Cellular) also makes RBI’s wishes of having a deeper penetration very apparent.

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