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MUMBAI : Eight institutions and individuals have applied for on-tap licences to set up universal banks and small finance banks, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said on Thursday.

UAE Exchange and Financial Services Ltd, Repatriates Cooperative Finance and Development Bank Ltd, Chaitanya India Fin Credit Pvt. Ltd, an entity owned by Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal, and Pankaj Vaish and others have sought licences for universal banks. UAE Exchange had applied unsuccessfully for a banking licence in 2017.

VSoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Calicut City Service Co-operative Bank Ltd, Akhil Kumar Gupta and Dvara Kshetriya Gramin Financial Services Pvt. Ltd have shown interest in setting up small finance banks.

This comes weeks after RBI set up an advisory panel, led by former deputy governor Shyamala Gopinath, to evaluate applications for universal and small finance banks, which are mandated to focus on priority sector lending and small loans. The last time RBI handed out universal bank licences was in 2015 when it cleared IDFC Ltd and Bandhan Financial’s applications.

In August 2016, RBI released guidelines for on-tap licensing for universal banks. Among eligible promoters for banks were resident professionals who have 10 years of experience in banking and finance at a senior level. Private sector entities owned and controlled by residents and have a successful track record for at least 10 years are also eligible, provided they have assets of 5,000 crore or more, and the non-financial business of the group does not account for 40% or more of total assets or gross income.

Existing non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) controlled by residents and with a successful track record for at least 10 years were also allowed to apply for licences. In August 2013, RBI released a policy discussion paper on banking structure in India that favoured an on-tap licensing policy to boost competition and bring in new ideas into the system.

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