Finance minister Arun Jaitley formally launched Airtel Payments Bank Ltd on Friday in New Delhi. A joint venture between phone services provider Bharti Airtel Ltd and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, the payments bank went live with a network of 250,000 banking points. In the pilot phase, the bank added over 1 million customers, according to a statement by the company. A payments bank is a differentiated bank which allows customers to open only a savings account, that too with a deposit of up to Rs1 lakh. At any given point, customers can maintain and operate only one bank account with Airtel Payments Bank.
Although there are no charges on cash deposits, in case of cash withdrawal, customers have to pay Rs5-25 if the amount is between Rs10 and Rs4,000, according to the bank’s website. In case the withdrawal amount is above Rs4,000, customers have to pay 0.65% of the withdrawal amount. For instance, a customer who withdraws Rs10,000 will have to pay Rs65 as a charge. Transfers within Airtel Payments Bank via Internet banking, mobile app or unstructured supplementary service data is free of cost. However, transfers from Airtel Payments Bank to other banks incur a charge of 0.5% of the amount transferred.
“While cash deposit is free for all customers, a cash withdrawal fee of 0.65% is levied to ensure the facilitation of this at all the banking points. This will also encourage customers to opt for digital payments for transactions as against physical cash,” the bank said in an email.
The bank also offers free talktime equivalent of the amount deposited in the savings account. “The free talk time shall be capped at 500 minutes per customer,” the bank said.
Customers can open the account with a minimum balance of Rs100. To close the account, they will have to pay Rs50. The minimum amount for cash deposit, withdrawal and online fund transfer is Rs10. The maximum amount deposit per day at a banking point is Rs49,990.
Airtel Payments Bank offers 7.25% interest on deposits in savings accounts. Large commercial banks such as State Bank of India and ICICI Bank Ltd offer 4% . Some banks offer interest on savings account in the range of 5.5-7.1%, depending on the deposit amount. Hence, at this point, Airtel Payments Bank’s interest rate offering is the highest in the banking industry. To open an account, customers need to have an Aadhaar for the e-KYC (know your customer) process. For Airtel mobile customers, the mobile number will be the account number.
App and card
The bank also launched an Airtel Payments Bank app and online debit card in collaboration with Mastercard. The MyAirtel app is available on both Android and iOS platforms. The online debit card can be used only at online merchant portals that accept Mastercard. Customers can get the card on the MyAirtel app. Customers also get a free personal accidental insurance cover of Rs1 lakh when they open a savings account. The bank is offering this through a tie-up with Bharti AXA General Insurance Co. Ltd.