Airtel’s mobile commerce subsidiary Airtel M Commerce Services Limited (AMSL) is applying for a payments bank licence. AMSL, which operates Airtel Money, already has a prepaid payments instrument licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)and is looking to convert the same into a payments bank licence.
The company added that if it gets a payments bank licence from the RBI, Kotak Mahindra Bank will pick up 19.90% stake in AMSL. This is most likely a strategic partnership and they might get expertise and leverage from Kotak Mahindra Bank. AMSL is a wholly owned-subsidiary of Bharti Airtel and does not need its foreign shareholding to be brought down.
Airtel Money was launched in 2011 and allows customers to to use their mobile phones as a secure way for making payments and transferring money. The company had reported an active base of 1.7 million users in India in Q4-FY14, up from 1.3 million in the previous quarter. The total number of transactions made in the country was at 38 million, up 25.8% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) while the total amount transacted was at Rs 1,364.2 crore for the quarter, up 10.2% QoQ.
Digital payments companies, Paytm and MobiKwik have also said that they would apply for a payments bank licence. Paytm’s vice president for business Amit Lakhotia had said that the company, which has a user base of 20 million, is not looking to partner with any other scheduled commercial bank for the payments bank licence.
MobiKwik’s head of strategy, Mrinal Sinha, told Medianama that, should the company get a payments bank licence, it will be able to offer interest on the money which is stored on their wallets. He added that with the payments bank licence the company will be looking at ways where customers can withdraw cash from their wallets.
Other telcos who have mobile money services
– Vodafone India’s mobile money service M-Pesa had reported 0.3 million active users for the quarter ended June 30, 2014.
— Tata Teleservices subsidiary MMP Mobi Wallet Payment Systems, which offers a money transfer and payment service ‘mRupee’, has partnered RBL Bank to launch a new Visa powered Open Loop prepaid card.
Disclosure: Airtel is an advertiser with Medianama