‘Payments Banks’ eye utility bill operations, too

MUMBAI: Telecom companies that won payments bank licences, along with digital wallet company Paytm and the Department of Posts, are keen to obtain permits from the Reserve Bank of India to operate facilities to pay utility bills. The prospective payments banks have sought information from the National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI) about the functioning and eligibility criteria for becoming Bharat Bill Payment System Operating Units.The NPCI will operate the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) and set standards for processes to be followed by operating units.

“Vodafone, Airtel, Idea, RIL, Paytm -all of them and a few banks are already seeking clarity on the functioning of a BBPOU,” said an NPCI official who did not wish to be identified. “Lots of peo ple are contacting us, including the Department of Posts. The four telcos have already reached out.They want to know whether they can apply at this stage itself.”

The RBI on October 20 called for bids from companies engaged in bill payments that want to become units operating under the Bharat Bill Payment System. The system will be a single window facility for electronic payment of bills of utility services. Airtel and Vodafone declined to comment, while Paytm, RIL and Idea Cellular did not re spond to ET’s emailed queries.

The RBI had granted in-princi ple approval in August to 11 appli cants to set up payments banks.

“These companies have received n-principle nod but they are not operational now. Payments bank icence winners can apply for a BBPOU licence and get their backend systems ready so that right on day one of being a pay ments bank, they can also be in his area,” the official added.