India Post’s bank to go operational in March 2017: IT minister

Payments BankThe India Post payment bank will become operational from March 2017, Union Minister for Communications & IT Ravi Shankar Prasad has said.

Speaking at the Good Governance Day conference on December 28, Prasad said several domestic and foreign financial institutions, including the World Bank and Deutsche Bank, have approached the state-owned Department of Posts for a tie-up for the proposed bank.

Domestic private sector lender ICICI Bank is also said to have expressed interest to form partnership with India Post. Prasad said the financial approval for the payment bank will first be cleared by the Public Investment Board and then by the Cabinet.

The banking regulator Reserve Bank of India had earlier this year given in-principle clearance to 11 entities, including India Post, to start payment banks.

At the event Good Governance Day celebration, Prasad, accompanied by key officials of his ministry, announced a slew of initiatives spanning the departments of Telecom, Posts, Electronics and IT. Some of the highlights included the launch of a National Centre of Geo-Informatics, which will be a platform for sharing and collaborating GIS data source and location-based analytics that will aid central and state governments in planning, decision-making and electronic delivery of services.

Prasad also announced a mobile application for Digital Locker, one of the marquee schemes under the Digital India platform. While inaugurating public wi-fi hotspots at Haridwar and Ajmer, Prasad said such hotspots have already been set up in 500 places in 200 centres and will be extended to 2,500 by March next year. Good governance is defined by easy, effective and economical governance, he said. “Digital India is something we owe to the people of India,” Prasad added.

It was announced that MTNL will now offer free roaming to its customers from January 1. BSNL had started offering free incoming calls on roaming to its customers earlier this year. While the threshold for the broadband limit has been increased to 2 mbps from 512 kbps, mobile towers will be set up in Naxal-affected areas in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

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