Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is testing its payments bank services among its employees, two executives aware of the matter said, similar to how it introduced Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd nearly three years ago. Formed in April 2018 as a 70:30 joint venture between RIL and State Bank of India (SBI), Jio Payments Bank is one of eight entities licensed to operate payments banks in the country.
Allowing employees to use the service will allow the company test its network and infrastructure and help plug loopholes before a formal launch.
“We have begun live beta trials for Jio Payments Bank. We are also rolling out merchant solutions and the service is seeing good acceptance across offline and online,” Anshuman Thakur, Reliance Jio’s strategy and planning head, said on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the company’s second quarter earnings on 17 October.
Telecom major Bharti Airtel Ltd was the first to launch a payments bank in India in November 2016. Paytm Payments Bank began operations in May 2017, while Fino Payments Bank started last June.
Reliance Jio began similarly in August 2015 with a beta launch for its 100,000 employees, who were later allowed to invite others to join the network.
Payments banks can offer services such as small savings accounts, payments, and remittance services to small businesses and low-income households. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) sees payments banks as a faster route than traditional banks to bring more Indians under financial coverage.
Driven primarily by mobile technology, payments banks can ease the account opening process by making it technology-based and paperless. They can accept deposits only up to ₹1 lakh per customer in a savings/current account, since their purpose is to reach out to the un-banked masses. They cannot offer loans.
RIL is also moving customers of its JioMoney prepaid mobile wallet to Jio Payments Bank, the second person cited above said.
In August, Reliance Jio integrated SBI’s Yono (you only need one) platform on to its MyJio mobile app.
SBI Yono is an omni-channel platform offering digital banking, commerce and financial services in one place. The features of SBI Yono can be accessed through the MyJio application.
Reliance Jio and SBI customers will benefit from Jio Prime, the customer loyalty programme by Reliance Jio. Jio Prime will offer exclusive deals from Reliance Retail, Jio partner brands and merchants. As part of the deal, Jio Prime will be integrated with SBI Rewardz, the bank’s loyalty programme to offer additional loyalty reward earning opportunities to its customers.
SBI, the country’s largest lender, will also engage Reliance Jio as a preferred partner for designing and providing network and connectivity solutions. The bank is looking to utilize Reliance Jio’s extensive network to facilitate services like video banking and other on-demand services.
In the September quarter, Reliance Jio added 37 million customers, taking the total user base to 252.3 million. If it continues to grow at this pace, it will over take Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd as India’s largest telecom firm by end of 2018.