Aditya Birla Nuvo to start digital wallet services by year-end
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Mumbai: Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd, which won a license last year to set up a non-lending bank in India, will start its digital wallet services by the end of 2016 as it prepares to tap one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets.
The company controlled by billionaire K.M. Birla plans to take advantage of about 180 million customers of its wireless unit Idea Cellular Ltd and other clients of an empire spanning mutual funds to insurance, Ajay Srinivasan, chief executive of Aditya Birla Group’s financial services division, said in an interview.
“We are sitting on a massive gold-mine of opportunity in terms of the customer base we can reach,” he said Monday in Mumbai. “The whole focus is going to be on how you can get them on to the payment bank and then get them to transact.”
Conglomerates of Birla and fellow billionaires Mukesh Ambani and Dilip Shanghvi were among the 11 entities to win a license in August to establish so-called payment banks that can’t lend and can only invest a depositor’s money in the safest government securities. The permits were part of efforts by policy makers to cut the nation’s addiction to cash, increase efficiency of regular lenders and widen access to banking.
Payment banks, which earn a small commission on each transaction, function a lot like PayPal Holdings Inc. in the US, but with a distinction—customers can get interest on the money they leave there.
Deposits in payment banks, capped at Rs.100,000 ($1,486), are guaranteed by the Reserve Bank of India. The banks need to have a minimum capital of Rs.100 crore, according to RBI rules published on 27 November. The promoters will have to contribute at least 40% of the total paid-up capital.
Idea Cellular’s customer base is bigger than that of Axis Bank Ltd, India’s third-biggest non-state bank, Srinivasan said. Birla’s payment bank plans to offer “sachet size” financial products and services that appeal to low-income customers who currently may not own insurance or invest in mutual funds, he said.
The Aditya Birla Group has about Rs.2 trillion in assets across its mutual fund and insurance businesses. Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund is India’s fourth-biggest money manager. The conglomerate also runs a brokerage and a private equity business. Bloomberg