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Payment Banks in India, Characteristics, Regulations, Functions

Payment Banks

Payment banks are a type of financial institution that operates in the banking sector, providing basic banking services to individuals and small businesses. Payment banks are licensed by the central bank or financial regulatory authority of a country to carry out specific banking activities, primarily focused on facilitating digital transactions and increasing financial inclusion.

Payment Banks Characteristics

Here are some key characteristics and features of payment banks:

  • Payment banks offer basic services like deposits, remittances, and payments.
  • They prioritize digital transactions through technology and mobile platforms.
  • The primary goal is to promote financial inclusion for the unbanked or underbanked.
  • Payment banks have lower or no minimum balance requirements.
  • They form partnerships with other financial institutions to expand their offerings.
  • Compliance with regulatory frameworks is crucial, covering banking operations, customer protection, AML measures, and data privacy.

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Payment Banks in India 

Payment banks were introduced in India based on the recommendations of the Nachiket Mor Committee. Appointed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2013, the committee proposed the establishment of payment banks to enhance financial inclusion. The RBI issued guidelines in November 2014, and licenses were granted in 2015, marking the establishment of payment banks in India.

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Read about: Indian Financial System

Payment Banks Regulations 

Payment banks are required to meet certain regulatory requirements and guidelines. Here are the key regulations governing payment banks in India:

Minimum Capital

Payment banks are required to have a minimum capital of Rs. 100 crores as per the licensing guidelines set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Promoter’s Interest

The promoter’s stake in a payment bank must be at least 40% for the first five years. This regulation ensures that the promoters have a significant interest in the bank’s operations during the initial years.

Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)

Payment banks are also required to maintain a Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR). CRR is a certain percentage of deposits that banks need to keep with the central bank as a reserve to maintain liquidity in the banking system.

Foreign Ownership

Under the Indian Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) guidelines for private banks, foreign ownership is permitted in payment banks, subject to the prescribed limits and regulatory approvals.

Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)

Payment banks must invest a minimum of 75% of their demand deposit balances in approved government securities or treasury bills with a maturity of up to one year. This requirement ensures liquidity and safety of customer deposits.

Branches in Rural Areas

Payment banks are required to have at least 25% of their branches in unbanked rural areas. This mandate aims to increase financial inclusion by providing banking services to underserved rural communities.

Name and Licensing

Payment banks must use the term “payment bank” in their name to distinguish themselves from other types of banks. They are licensed as payment banks under Section 22 of the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 and are regulated by the Reserve Bank of India.

Read about: Private Sector Banks

Payment Banks Functions 

Payment Banks perform the following activities as mandated by RBI regulations. 

  • Payment banks accept demand deposits.
  • They issue ATM/debit cards but not credit cards.
  • They provide payments and remittance services through various channels.
  • NRI deposits are not accepted.
  • They invest customer deposits specifically in government securities.

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Payment Banks Advantages 

Payment banks offer several advantages that contribute to the financial ecosystem and benefit individuals and businesses. Here are some key advantages of payment banks:

  • Financial Inclusion: Payment banks promote financial inclusion by providing basic banking services to underserved populations.
  • Digital Convenience: Payment banks prioritize digital transactions, offering user-friendly mobile banking and online platforms for convenient banking services.
  • Lower Minimum Balance: Payment banks have lower or no minimum balance requirements, making banking more accessible for individuals with limited resources.
  • Cost-Effective Services: Payment banks offer cost-effective solutions due to reduced overhead costs and streamlined operations.
  • Collaborative Partnerships: Payment banks collaborate with other financial institutions, expanding their product offerings and creating additional value for customers.
  • Increased Competition: Payment banks drive competition in the banking sector, leading to innovation, improved service quality, and competitive pricing.
  • Secure and Regulated Operations: Payment banks operate under regulatory oversight, ensuring customer protection and compliance with regulations on AML measures and data privacy.

Read about: Types of Banks in India

Payment Banks Disadvantages 

While payment banks offer several advantages, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider:

  • Limited Services: Payment banks have a restricted range of services, focusing primarily on basic banking functions, which means they do not provide a full suite of services like loans and credit cards.
  • Lack of Personalized Services: Due to their digital nature, payment banks may lack the personalized service and face-to-face interaction offered by traditional banks.
  • Deposit Limitations: Payment banks have a maximum deposit limit, typically set at a certain amount, which may restrict customers with higher deposit needs.
  • Limited Investment Options: Payment banks are restricted to investing customer deposits in government securities, which may result in lower returns compared to other investment options.
  • Absence of NRI Deposits: Payment banks do not accept deposits from Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), limiting their customer base and potential sources of funds.
  • Dependency on Technology: Payment banks heavily rely on technology for operations, which can pose risks in terms of system failures, cybersecurity threats, and disruptions in services.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Payment banks must adhere to regulatory requirements and guidelines, which can involve additional compliance costs and administrative burdens.

Read about: Public Sector Banks

Payment Banks UPSC 

The topic of payment banks is important for UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) aspirants as it falls under the domain of the UPSC Syllabus, specifically in the Economics and Banking sectors. Being aware of payment banks and their role in promoting financial inclusion, digital transactions, and basic banking services is crucial for candidates preparing for the UPSC examination. Candidates can enhance their knowledge by referring to UPSC Online Coaching materials and taking UPSC Mock Test that covers topics related to payment banks and the broader banking sector, ensuring a comprehensive preparation for the examination.

Read about: Banking System in India

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Payment Banks FAQs

What are payments banks?

Payment banks are specialized banks that provide basic banking services, focusing on payments, remittances, and savings accounts.

What are the 6 payment banks in India?

The six payment banks in India are Airtel Payments Bank, Paytm Payments Bank, India Post Payments Bank, Fino Payments Bank, Jio Payments Bank, and NSDL Payments Bank.

Which is the No 1 payment bank?

The No. 1 payment bank in India is based on factors such as customer base, transactions volume, and market share, which may vary over time.

Which is the first payment bank of India?

The first payment bank of India is Airtel Payments Bank, which commenced its operations in November 2016.

About the Author

I, Sakshi Gupta, am a content writer to empower students aiming for UPSC, PSC, and other competitive exams. My objective is to provide clear, concise, and informative content that caters to your exam preparation needs. I strive to make my content not only informative but also engaging, keeping you motivated throughout your journey!


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