After a decade, new bank licences are in the offing; but no new names appear likely. Equitas Small Finance Bank and Fino Payments Bank, which have completed over five years in the respective domains, are looking to move up the value chain. The licensing guidelines for SFBs and payments banks permit conversion to the next category of banking after five years of operations.
Equitas is aspiring to be a universal bank, whereas Fino seeks small finance bank licence. As a universal bank, the priority sector requirements for Equitas will reduce from 75 per cent to 40 per cent, while the transition into an SFB will allow Fino to lend to its customers.
Although nothing has been formalised yet, highly placed sources say Equitas has started engaging with the banking regulator on these lines. “There have been a few rounds of discussions with senior executives of the Reserve Bank of India, and a few procedural aspects need to be addressed in order to make a formal application to the RBI,” said a person aware of the matter. “The bank has a diverse loan book compared to peers and has been recently authorised to deal in forex. The logical next step is becoming a universal bank.“
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An email to Equitas SFB for clarity on the matter remained unanswered until the time of writing this. In an interview tobusinesline, dated January 17, PN Vasudevan, MD and CEO, Equitas SFB, indicated that the bank is keen to convert into a universal bank.
Meanwhile, at Fino, the management is deliberating the matter. “Once we are internally ready, we will approach the board. Within this year we should be able to take it forward,” said Rishi Gupta, MD and CEO, Fino Payments Bank, in an interview with businessline.
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Fino is expected to approach the RBI on the matter by March 2024.
Equitas, though, is faced with a peculiar issue. While the guidelines allow upgradation into a universal bank, there is no formal application or process for it. According to sources, the RBI wants the bank to apply afresh for a universal bank licence. However, the bank is of the view that since it already holds a bank licence, it shouldn’t be asked to apply afresh. Apparently, these procedural aspects are a roadblock for the bank.
- Equitas granted SFB licence on June 30, 2016
- Equitas SFB became operational on September 5, 2016
- Fino Paytech, holding company of Fino Payments Bank, received licence on March 31, 2017
- Fino Payments Bank become operational on June 30, 2017
Web Title – Equitas, Fino gear up for upgrade in banking profile