Airtel Payments Bank Limited: Furthering Financial Inclusion
In early January 2018, a leading non-governmental organization in the Indian state of Rajasthan was considering an alliance with Airtel Payments Bank Limited (Airtel Payments), the first "payments bank" in India. Although India showed economic growth in key areas, financially inclusive growth was poor. Airtel Payments and its competitors were expected to strengthen financial inclusion with technological expertise, wide distribution networks, and substantial revenue to sustain losses during initial start-up phases of the payments banking Industry in India. Airtel Payments paid a 7.25 per cent interest rate for customer deposits, the highest among the payments banks. However, the non-governmental organization needed to address several questions before initiating an alliance with Airtel Payments for financial inclusion: Could Airtel Payments play a significant role in financial inclusion and help solve India's persistent age-old issue of last-mile connectivity? Was it viable to offer higher interest rates than competitors? Did the environmental factors favour Airtel Payments? Was the payments bank industry competitive? What would be the impact of Airtel Payments's previous unethical practice of opening bank accounts without informed consent? Saif Siddiqui is affiliated with Jamia Millia Islamia.