The Reserve Bank of India last granted new banking licences nearly a decade ago
INDIA`S central bank outlined proposals to allow more private players in the banking sector to foster greater competition and widen the availability of banking services.
India`s state-run banks dominate the sector and inefficient practices and bloated workforces have brought calls for more private sector capital to reinvigorate the industry and expand its reach.
Under the central bank`s proposals, companies would need a "successful financial track record of at least 10 years" to be eligible to set up new banks, the Reserve Bank of India said.
Real estate construction and brokerage companies would be barred from obtaining banking licences.
New banks would be set up through a holding company while foreign shareholdings in the new banks would be limited to 49 per cent for the first five years.
A number of corporate houses, including the Aditya Birla group have expressed interest in obtaining banking licences.
Some micro-finance institutions, which lend money to India`s poorest, are also reported to be interested in obtaining formal banking licences.
New lenders would have to sell shares within two years and set up at least one in four branches in India`s rural hinterland.#
Private players should be committed to achieving "financial inclusion", embracing swathes of rural India which currently have little access to banking services, the bank said.
Vast segments of India`s 1.2 billion population, especially the poor, still have no access to formal banking services.
India has 27 state-run, 22 private and 31 foreign banks, according to central bank data. The sector includes more than 2,100 rural and urban cooperative banks.
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