Sunday, 18 October 2015

Payment Banks - Airtel Bank in the making?

I have always been bullish on the Indian financial sector. My logic is simple. Any industry where there is a very large disconnect between demand and supply is bound to do well. India is a cash / credit starved nation and any business which provides credit to people and businesses will do well over a very very long time. 

The history of Indian banking is very interesting. Refer to Banking in India on wikipedia for a good overview. By now, most people are used to the ubiquitous ATM machines and do not consider private banks as fly-by-night operators who will take their money and run away. We are at the cusp of the third major wave in Indian banking (nationalisation in the 70s and privatisation in the 90s being the first two). With the 11 new licenses given out by RBI for new payment banks, the playing field has been (once again) forever changed. Ten years down the line, banking will not be the same as today. Brace yourself for a huge disruption in the coming years.

So what are payment banks? For simplicity's sake, it is a "technology driven bank", mainly mobile based which will cover most of the services provided by a regular bank except giving loans. They can take deposits of upto Rs 1 Lakh and pay interest on it, provide debit cards, transfer money from one account to another. 

The 11 players who have got the licenses include some very very prominent names - Airtel, Vodafone, Aditya Birla Nuvo, Reliance, Mahindra, India Post, Dilip Sanghvi (promoter of Sun Pharma), Paytm, Cholamandalam and NSDL. All of them are big players in their own fields. Three of them stand out distinctly - India Post, Airtel and Vodafone. Their reach and penetration is really unmatched. Just as an example, Vodafone m-pesa accounts for more than 50% of the GDP of Kenya on its platform. 

Already, we are seeing a beginning of "Uber"isation of services. Players like Vodafone & Airtel who are already there with you. It is so much more convenient if you can just use the mobile to pay for your kirana purchases or on public transport or at petrol pumps. 

Where does that leave the existing banks? The existing large players will push strongly on their apps (HDFC, ICICI, SBI etc). The brunt of the disruption in my opinion will be borne by the mid sized PSU banks and the smaller private banks. We already saw a DCB Bank being routed on the bourses because they accepted the increased competition from these new players. There will be more to come. The age of easy-CASA money may be behind us. The mid sized banks would now have to tie-up with some of these payment banks or invest heavily in their own app infrastructure. 

Let us keep an eye out for the trio - Airtel, Vodafone and India Post for the next leg of banking disruption.

8 comments:

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  2. Hi,

    Awaiting to see your portfolio update

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  7. PLEASE UPDATE YOUR HOLDING PORTFILIO & ANY STOCK TO ADD PORTFILIO IN CMP

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