Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the long–delayed India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) on August 21, according to PTI. The bank, which currently has two operational branches, will set up 650 branches, with at least one branch located in every district of the country. IPPB will focus on delivering financial services, particularly in rural areas by leveraging its massive network of 1,55,000 post office branches in the country, a senior official of the communications ministry told PTI.

The official further stated that the government is trying to link all 1,55,000 lakh post office branches with IPPB services by the end of this year, which will result in the body becoming the country’s largest banking network. That apart, IPPB has already received the permission to link around 170 million postal savings bank (PSB) account with its account. The IPPB expects to acquire 8 crore customers in the next five years. The IPPB app, which is also expected to be launched on same day as the bank, will enable customers to pay for services of around 100 firms including phone recharges and bill, electricity bill, DTH service, college fees, etc., that are present on Bharat Bill payments system of National Payments Corporation of India. The payments bank will also offer RTGS, NEFT, IMPS transactions that will enable its customers to transfer and receive money from any bank account. On the flip side, the government will use the payment bank to distribute MGNREGA wages, subsidies, pension, etc.

This development comes just days after IPPB CEO Suresh Shetty said that the bank will go live ‘soon’ with 650 branches, in addition to 3,250 access points co-located at post offices and around 11,000 postmen both, in rural and urban areas who will provide doorstep banking services.

The Union Cabinet decided to form the India Post Payments Bank in June 2016, but the payments bank was established after RBI approvals in early 2017 with a steep target of 1.55 lakh outlets at post offices and 650 payments bank branches at District Headquarters Post Offices by September 2017. According to a reply in the Parliament on the 7th of March 2018, this was expected to be achieved in April 2018. IPPB was the third entity to receive payments bank permit after Airtel Payments Bank and Paytm Payments Bank. These banks can accept deposits up to Rs 1 lakh per account from individuals and small businesses and issue debit/ATM cards.