An advertisment for Bharti Airtel Ltd. sits outside a sim card vendor’s stall in Mumbai, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Airtel Payments Bank Lures Customers With Free Talktime

On November 23, Airtel Payments Bank launched a pilot project in Rajasthan, luring customers with the offer of a hefty interest rate of 7.25 per cent on savings accounts.

Two weeks later, the company is sweetening its offer and giving out a minute of free talk time for every rupee deposited in the payments bank. The talk time can be used to call anywhere in India, the company said in a press release on Friday.

Any customer opening a savings account with Airtel Payments Bank, will get one minute of talk time on his/her Airtel mobile for every Rupee deposited. For e.g. if a customer opens an account with a deposit of Rs 1000 then he/she will get 1000 minutes of free talk time on his/her Airtel mobile number.
Airtel Payments Bank

The offer, however, is only valid for first time deposits and limited to Airtel subscribers. The bank allows anyone to open a bank account with their unique identification or Aadhaar number but Airtel subscribers get the additional benefit of having their phone number be their bank account number as well.

Airtel Payment Bank claimed last week that it managed to get 10,000 customers within the first two days of launch. Most of these customers came from semi-urban or rural areas.

Airtel is the first entity to launch the payments bank while nine other licensees are expected to enter the fray soon. The company is offering a personal accidental insurance of Rs 1 lakh to each subscriber in addition to the savings account.

The bank is fully digital and operates without any branch or office through a network of retailers which are present across the country, the company said. Airtel added that it plans to bring on-board one lakh merchants across Rajasthan who will accept digital payments through its platform.

Shashi Arora, chief executive officer of the Airtel Payments Bank said that the company hopes that additional benefit of talk time will boost customer acquisition.

We are confident that this additional benefit along with the industry-best interest rate on deposits will encourage customers to open accounts with us and give a big boost to customer acquisition. We are also undertaking a massive drive to enroll over one lakh merchants in Rajasthan by the year-end, who will not be charged anything for accepting digital payments from Airtel Payments Bank customers. We believe this will boost the digital payments ecosystem hugely and reduce dependence on cash. 
Shashi Arora, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank