UAE Exchange applies for small bank licence in India

Under the small bank – or non-banking financial company (NBFC) – licence, the company cannot take deposit under the Indian central bank regulation. (Ashok Verma)

UAE Exchange, a money transfer and foreign exchange firm, has applied again for a small banking licence in India in a span of just two years in order to expand its range beyond remittances business, a senior official said.

Promoth Manghat, Deputy CEO of UAE Exchange, said: “We just made the application for a small bank licence – which requires a minimum capital of Rs100 crore – with the Indian central bank and the ambition is to get into full-fledged banking… when you’re a small finance bank, you don’t have the flexibility to offer full suite products of universal banking.”

Under the small bank – or non-banking financial company (NBFC) – licence, the company cannot take deposit under the Indian central bank regulation.

UAE Exchange – which has presence in India since 1999 – announced in July 2013 that it had applied for the banking licence in India two years ago in 2013 but its bid was not approved by the country’s apex bank.

Owned by the UAE-based Non-Resident Indian billionaire BR Shetty, UAE Exchange has a network of almost direct 400 branches across the globe. BR Shetty last month announced his company’s merger with British foreign currency exchange firm Travelex and plan to list in Abu Dhabi around. UAE Exchange has over six million customers in 30 countries.

UAE Exchange revealed that expats, mostly Indians, remitted around $14 billion (Dh51.4bn) from UAE.

India is the world’s largest recipient of remittances from its overseas workers, who pumped in an estimated $71 billion (Dh261bn) of forex in annual remittance last year. Of that, about 10 per cent was routed through the UAE Exchange.

Manghat said last time when Reserve Bank of India, the country’s apex bank, opened up the applications, it approximately took almost 9 months to receive response.

He told Emirates 24l7 that following the approval of the application by the Indian central bank, the company could transform its existing network in to bank branches.

“We will definitely have the opportunity to look at our existing branches in to bank branches,” he added.

“At this point of time our activity is limited to non-banking so once the banking comes in we will be able to offer much more and better products to customers,” Manghat added.

Manghat said the UAE firm has so far applied for banking licence only in India.

 

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