Euromoney, January 2018
India receives global attention for its digital innovation as a tool of financial inclusion, but it couldn’t get off the ground without a unique non-profit institution charged with creating the infrastructure.
It is hard to think of an equivalent enterprise to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) anywhere in the world.
Built as an umbrella organization for retail and settlement systems in India, it is a state-created non-profit owned by 56 banks, from public-sector behemoths such as State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank to homegrown private-sector players such as ICICI and HDFC, and foreigners including Citibank and HSBC.
“We started out with 10 core promoter banks,” says Dilip Asbe, acting chief executive of NPCI since the retirement of founding managing director and CEO AP Hota earlier this year. “We have diverse shareholders: public sector, private sector, regional, cooperative, foreign, and we were born from the vision of the Reserve Bank of India.”
That vision, he says, was “to promote the integrity, efficiency, inclusiveness and competitiveness of the financial and payments system”.
The goal was initially to create clearing systems for payments in India, and in particular to get digital transactions moving, though over subsequent years it has broadened into a range of other products from bill payment systems to credit cards and toll collection.
“Our mission is to touch every Indian with one or other payment service by 2020,” says Asbe, meaning that the whole population ought to be able to access and use at least one of these cashless opportunities. One wonders how it works in practice to have so many shareholders with different ambitions and strategies.