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RBI releases guidelines for on-tap licensing of Small Finance Banks in the private sector
(18:05, 05 Dec 2019)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today has released Guidelines for 'on tap' Licensing of Small Finance Banks in the Private Sector. Major changes from the earlier Guidelines on Small Finance Banks dated 27 November 2014, are (i) The licensing window will be open on-tap; (ii) minimum paid-up voting equity capital / net worth requirement shall be Rs 200 crore; (iii) for Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks (UCBs), desirous of voluntarily transiting into Small Finance Banks (SFBs) initial requirement of net worth shall be at Rs 100 crore, which will have to be increased to Rs 200 crore within five years from the date of commencement of business. Incidentally, the net-worth of all SFBs currently in operation is in excess of Rs 200 crore; (iv) SFBs will be given scheduled bank status immediately upon commencement of operations; (v) SFBs will have general permission to open banking outlets from the date of commencement of operations; (vi) Payments Banks can apply for conversion into SFB after five years of operations, if they are otherwise eligible as per these guidelines.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had last issued guidelines for licensing of Small Finance Banks in the private sector on 27 November 2014. Consequently, the Reserve Bank issued in-principle approval to ten applicants and they have since established the banks. It was mentioned in the guidelines that after gaining experience in dealing with these banks, RBI would consider receiving the applications on a continuous basis. In the Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2019-20 dated 06 June 2019, it was announced that the Draft Guidelines for 'on tap' Licensing of such banks will be issued. Accordingly, the draft guidelines were published on the RBI website on 13 September 2019 inviting comments from the stakeholders and members of the public. Taking into consideration the responses received, the final guidelines have now been issued.

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