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RIL plans global payments play via NUE

Reliance Industries’ proposed New Umbrella Entity (NUE) for payments services, in a consortium with Infibeam Avenue, Google and Facebook, has plans to make it a global payments player, said two people familiar with the matter.

The oil-to-retail conglomerate, which also runs Jio Payments Bank, will likely offer payment services overseas, probably pitting it against giants Visa and Mastercard in some markets if it gets the operating licence.

“RIL has already started weaving a long-term plan with NUE, which should generate many leads for the future,” one of the persons cited above told ET.

The NUE will be jointly promoted by an RIL unit and Infibeam Avenue subsidiary So Hum Bharat along with two global giants – Facebook and Google. RIL is likely to hold 40 percent. Other three players are expected to own about 20 percent each.

“RIL is now focusing on building the company roping in veteran experienced hands as the association of Google and Facebook could pave way for their global ambition,” said another executive.

RIL did not reply to ET’s query.

It is said to have approached two former officials who worked with regulators earlier. The consortium applied for the licence last week.

An NUE licence would enable the entity to gain greater autonomy in processing digital payments in India. This in turn, should add credence to the consortium through value-added products in lending and other insurance services. NUE is a platform for digital transactions.

India’s digital economy was valued at $200 billion, or 8% of GDP, in 2018 and is expected to swell to 18-23% of GDP by 2025, ET reported on February 27 citing a study by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

India is the second-fastest growing country based on digital adoption in the recent past although it is still low in absolute rankings. The RBI expects more NUE payment networks will help bolster digital adoption.

Six consortiums, including those led by Tata Group and Axis-ICICI Bank, submitted applications to the central bank on Wednesday to set up a national payments infrastructure rivalling the National Payments Corp of India (NPCI) platform, ET reported on April 01. The bank consortium is led by Axis Bank and ICICI Bank, with 20% each and co-promoting an entity called MoPay.

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