India’s Reliance joins with Facebook, Google to build digital payment network: Report

By Amirtha P S, Trainee Reporter
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Indian multinational conglomerate company Reliance Industries has reportedly partnered with the American technology giants Facebook, Google and fintech player Infibeam to set up a national digital payment network.

Last year, India’s central bank invited companies to set up new umbrella entities (NUE) to build a payments network that would compete with the system operated by the National Payments Council of India (NPCI), as it plans to reduce concentration risks in the space.

NPCI is a not-for-profit company that was established in 2008, which counted dozens of banks as its shareholders, including the State Bank of India, Citibank and HSBC. The council processes billions of dollars in payments daily through services that include inter-bank fund transfers, ATM transactions and digital payments.

Citing three unnamed sources, India’s leading business media stated that the group led by Reliance and Infibeam was in the advanced stages of submitting their proposal to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Facebook and Google are already partnered with Reliance and own stakes in Jio Platforms, the unit which houses Reliance’s music, movie apps and telecoms venture.

A spokesperson for Infibeam declined to comment on the report, saying the company was bound by the confidentiality of the process, while Reliance, Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the RBI this week extended the deadline for all parties to submit NUE applications until March 31 from February 26. The report said RBI will take another six months to study all the proposals being submitted and that it is not expected to give more than two new “for-profit” NUE licenses.

As per earlier media reports, other parties in the line include a group led by Amazon and ICICI Bank, another combination led by the country’s salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group and private lender HDFC Bank and a venture involving India’s largest mobile payment platform, Paytm, domestic ride-sharing company Ola and IndusInd Bank.

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