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Pockets: ICICI Bank's answer to payments banks

Open to JV for latter entity once applicants get licence, says Kochhar

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai 

Chanda Kochhar
ICICI MD & CEO, Chanda Kochhar at the launch of ‘Pockets’ in Mumbai on Tuesday

India’s largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank, has launched an e-wallet called ‘Pockets’, which can do everything a payments can do.

'Pockets' is a mobile application, which can be used to send money, pay utility bills, book movie tickets, send gifts and share expenses. One can use this service even if one doesn’t have an ICICI Bank account. With this app, one can also open a zero-balance account.

“This product can do more than what even payments can and if you look at banking, then the universal licence that we have allows us to do everything in the payments space even in the digital medium,” said Chanda Kochhar, managing director and CEO.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is in the process of deciding on payments bank licences, for which it has 41 applications.

The lender had earlier expressed interest in exploring a partnership with those who have applied for bank licence. Even though they believe Pockets will have more feature than a payments bank, they haven’t ruled out the possibility of a joint venture later.

“We are always open to tie-ups, partnerships and so on because the universe of banking is huge. But even while things evolve in that space, we have something ready that our customers can start using and it offers you the entire gamut of things that a payments bank can do and much more,” added Kochhar.

Payments can accept deposits up to Rs 1 lakh, offer current and savings account deposits, issue debit cards and provide internet banking.

Explaining the rationale for calling it the ‘first digital mobile bank’, Rajiv Sabharwal, executive director, ICICI Bank said, “We have called it a bank because it can do much more than what an e-wallet does. It can actually function as a bank account. Going ahead, we are going to be adding a lot more features and services that are available in a bank otherwise.”

According to RBI regulations, the maximum amount a consumer can keep in the e-wallet is Rs 10,000. The upper limit on a transaction set by the bank is Rs 5,000.

With Pockets, ICICI Bank plans to target the youth segment and first-time banking customers. Currently, 50 per cent of the bank’s customers transact via the digital medium.

Between April-October, ICICI Bank has recorded transactions worth Rs 7,400 crore on its mobile banking platform.

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First Published: Wed, February 11 2015. 00:45 IST