The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up an Innovation Hub for the financial sector and appointed Senapathy (Kris) Gopalakrishnan, co-founder and former co-chairman of Infosys, as the chairperson of the governing council for the entity.
The central bank had said in its August monetary policy that it was going to set up a Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) to promote innovation across the financial sector by leveraging on technology and creating an environment which would facilitate and foster innovation.
The aim of the RBIH is to create an eco-system that would “focus on promoting access to financial services and products. This will also promote financial inclusion.”
RBIH will collaborate with financial sector institutions, technology industry and academic institutions and coordinate efforts for exchange of ideas and development of prototypes related to financial innovations, the RBI said, adding, it would develop internal infrastructure to promote fintech research and facilitate engagement with innovators and start-ups.
The RBIH would be guided and managed by the governing council led by Gopalakrishnan. The other members of the council includes Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Institute Professor, IIT, Madras, H Krishnamurthy, Principal Research Scientist, IISc, Bengaluru, Gopal Srinivasan, CMD, TVS Capital Funds, A P Hota, Former CEO, National Payments Corporation of India, Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, Former CMD, Syndicate Bank and ex-officio members from RBI T Rabi Sankar, Executive Director, Deepak Kumar, CGM, Department of Information Technology, K Nikhila, Director, Institute for Development & Research in Banking Technology, Hyderabad.
The CEO is yet to be appointed.
Meanwhile, in another development, RBI on Tuesday said two entities of the six selected for the first cohort under the regulatory sandbox structure with retail payments as its theme, have started testing of their products this week while the remaining four are expected to start their testing shortly.
The central bank received applications from 32 entities for the first cohort. The delay in testing by the six entities selected out of the 32 that put forth their applications was due to the covid-19 situation.
The two entities that have started testing are Natural Support Consultancy Services, Jaipur, and Nucleus Software Exports, New Delhi.
Natural Support Consultancy is testing its product “eRupaya”, which is a set of a Near-Field Communication (NFC) based prepaid card and NFC enabled Point of Sale (PoS) device, to facilitate offline Person-to-Merchant (P2M) transactions and offline digital payments in remote locations.
Nucleus Software, on the other hand, is testing its product “PaySe”, which is an offline digital cash product that will help connect with rural areas for e-payments. The product proposes to help in digitisation of payments in rural areas, starting with Self Help Groups (SHG), through an offline payment solution and a digitised SHG-centered ecosystem.
The central bank had announced opening of the first cohort under regulatory sandbox last November. The RBI had said, mobile payments including feature phone based payment services, offline payment solutions, and contactless payment would be considered under sandbox structure. The idea is to spur innovation in digital payments space and help in offering payment services to the unserved and underserved segment of the population.
Also, migration to digital modes of making a payment can obviate some of the costs associated with a cash economy and can give customers a friction-free experience.