Finance

RBI issues SFB licence to Centrum-BharatPe consortium

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has on Tuesday issued licence to the consortium of Centrum and BharatPe to set up a small finance bank (SFB). The lender, to be named Unity Small Finance Bank, will start operations in few weeks with atleast Rs 1,500 crore loan book.

This SFB will take over the beleaguered urban co-operative lender Punjab and Maharashtra Bank over period.

Jaspal Bindra, Chairman of BSE listed Centrum Capital, said with RBI issuing the license, the focus will shift to board formation and building top management team. The bank will become functional before close of calender 2021 and aspires to be India’s first digital bank.

The timing for integrating PMC would depend on when RBI and government release scheme of amalgamation, he said.

In June 2021, The RBI gave “in-principle” nod to Centrum Financial Services Ltd (CFSL) to set up the SFB.

Centrum will merge the SME lending business and micro-credit operations of group with the SFB at a consideration of Rs 426 crore. These businesses are run by two subsidiaries.

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 proposed business model is one of collaboration and open architecture, uniting all its stakeholders to deliver a seamless digital experience, Bindra said.

“We will work tirelessly and smartly to capture this opportunity and build India’s first truly Digital Bank ground up,” said Ashneer Grover, Co-Founder and Managing Director, BharatPe. While granting the in-principle nod on June 18, the RBI had said that the approval has been accorded in specific pursuance to the Centrum Financial Services’ February 1 offer expressing interest to take over PMC Bank.

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