Union Communications and IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad Friday said the government is considering a different ownership structure to “professionally” run the payments bank of the Department of Posts.
The government, which has committed to invest Rs 400 crore in the payment bank of the postal department, is hoping to launch the bank by March 2017 said Prasad. “We propose to have Rs 400 cr investment by the government and the rest by way of equity. It would be a separate architecture from the postal department. The bank will be run professionally,” said Prasad.
The Postal department was one of the 11 entities to be given in-principle approval by the RBI to launch payments banks. However, at least three companies – Cholamandalam, Tech Mahindra and Dilip Shanghvi-Telenor-IDFC – have already said they would be surrendering their licences citing aggressive play by competition.
Prasad said the postal department has begun giving 4,000 hand-held devices to the rural postmen on a pilot basis and will soon be rolling out 1.3 lakh of such machines, which will help them sell third-party products, make e-commerce deliveries, etc. According to him, a major chunk of the department’s over 1.5 lakh post offices are in the hinterlands, which contributes over 60 per cent of the e-commerce players’ catchment area.
Prasad on Friday said over 22,000 post offices have already been connected under the core banking system and the department has also started over 800 ATMs.
Prasad also said that the government’s ambitious Digital India programme is empowering the people across the country. He said the government has been working with a mission of “banking the unbanked, funding the unfunded, securing the unsecured and pensioning the unpensioned”.