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Bharti Airtel launches Aadhar-based digital banking service in India


Indian telecommunications firm Bharti Airtel officially launched Airtel Payments Bank last week in India, following a series of successful pilot programs in Rajasthan, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, according to a report by Asian News International.

Airtel Payments Bank takes a paperless banking approach through Aadhaar-based e-KYC, enabling any individual with an Aadhaar card, PAN card or smartphone with Internet connectivity to access the digital banking service.

The company has also updated its My Airtel app with a Payments Bank option for Android and iOS.

“One of the biggest advantages of having this bank is that the registration process doesn’t require any documentation or paper work,” Shashi Arora, managing director and CEO Airtel Payments Bank said. “People only need to share their Aadhar number for customer verification. Biometric verification will also be done. The biggest advantage that comes with this bank is that people will be able to avail banking facilities at the nearby shops.”

Arora said the bank is planning to make its services available at 600,000 of the 1.5 million retail stores through which customers currently purchase and recharge their prepaid mobile phones.

“We also want to encourage cashless payments through Airtel Payments Bank,” Arora said. “There are around 10 million small shops in the country through which customers make digital payments to online merchants. Till now, we have activated more than one million of these shops to make payments through Airtel Payments Bank. In the near future, we plan to activate around five million of these shops.”

Arora said customers will be able to open savings accounts, deposit or withdraw cash from these points, as well as make digital payments.

In November 2015, Airtel launched the first pilot program of its payments bank at its 1,000 stores in Rajasthan. During the pilot phase, Airtel successfully signed up more than one million customers.

Initially launching with 250,000 outlets, Airtel Payments Bank said it will be investing Rs. 3,000 crore (US$440,528,700) to build a pan-India banking network and digital payment ecosystem.

Airtel is initially offering 7.25 percent interest per annum to attract new clients, who can deposit up to Rs. one lakh (US$1,468.43) in their accounts.

Earlier this month, IDFC Bank launched an app called Aadhaar Pay that is designed to help the millions of Indian citizens without a smartphone to make digital purchases using only their fingerprint.

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