On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released a Small Finance Bank (SFB) licence to the consortium of Centrum Financial Services Limited (Centrum) and BharatPe. “A new bank license has been issued after a gap of nearly 6 years, and we thank the RBI for the confidence shown in the abilities of Centrum and BharatPe,” Centrum stated in an administrative filing.
The new SFB has been included as ‘Unity Small Finance Bank’. “Unity as a name has tremendous significance on many counts for both Centrum and BharatPe. It is the first time ever that two partners are uniting equally to build a Bank,” they said, continuing that the intended business model is one of collaboration and public architecture, joining all its stakeholders to produce a seamless digital experience.
The SFB will take over the beleaguered urban co-operative lender Punjab and Maharashtra Bank over a period.
The chairman of BSE listed Centrum Capital, Jaspal Bindra, said that with RBI granting the license, the emphasis will turn to board creation and construction of a prime management team. The bank will become operative before the close of 2021 and aims to be India’s first digital bank.
He said the timing for combining PMC would depend on when RBI and the government release the amalgamation plan.
In June 2021, The RBI gave an “in-principle” nod to Centrum Financial Services Ltd (CFSL) to set up the SFB. Centrum will join the SME lending business and micro-credit operations of the group with the SFB to recognise Rs 426 crore. Two subsidiaries run these businesses.
Jaspal Bindra-led Centrum Capital, the holding entity for CFSL, and its partner BharatPe, a payments system company, will infuse Rs 1,800 crore into the SFB. BharatPe will also move loan assets to Unity SFB. The statement added that Centrum’s MSME and Micro Finance businesses shall be joined into Unity Small Finance Bank.
Commenting on the progress, Jaspal Bindra, Executive Chairman, Centrum Group, said, “We are delighted to receive the license and excited to partner with BharatPe to create this new age bank, with a strong team. We aspire to be India’s first Digital Bank.”
“I wish to thank RBI for entrusting the Unity of BharatPe and Centrum with the SFB License. We will work tirelessly and smartly to capture this opportunity and build India’s first truly Digital Bank ground up,” added Ashneer Grover, Co-Founder and Managing Director, BharatPe.