Thursday, May 26, 2016

Telenor India Discards Payment Bank Plan, Acquires Prabhu Money in Malaysia

Oslo based telecom giant Telenor's 100% owned local Indian unit - Telenor India has planned to move away with their financial services. 

Last year in September Telenor Financial Services, IDFC Bank and Dilip Sanghvi of Sun Pharma were granted licence of 'Payment Bank' by RBI. Anyway all the three parties have mutually agreed not to persue the plan to start payment bank services. 

The reason of withdrawl of plans are yet to be known, however ET quotes an advisor of the JV that the lack of adequate physical presence will hamper the JV's bussiness. 

However in Malaysia, Telenor is acquiring Prabhu Money Transfer Sdn Bhd

Telenor, which is the hub for telecom innovations, are very much into mobile financial services and in the developing countries Telenor's financial services are quite popular. In 2013, Telenor entered into banking sector by acquiring 100% stake of KBC Bank in Serbia. 

Telenor is present in 6 countries of south east asia - Bangladesh (Grameenphone), India, Myanmar, Malaysia (DiGi), Pakistan and Thailand (dtac); and most countries have mobile financial services from Telenor. 

  • In 2009 Telenor Pakistan and Tameer Micro Finance jointly launched banking services under brand name of Easypaisa. The unit also has a insurance project running - named Easypaisa Sehat Sahara.
  • In Bangladesh Grameenphone, a subsidiary of Telenor have similar kind of services under Mobicash brand. 
  • Telenor Myanmar and Yoma Bank jointly started the mobile banking in Myanmar in November 2014. 

Telenor was very much active in mobile banking services and in India the sector is yet to see the boom. Does it mean Telenor wants to leave Indian soil in coming years?

Telenor though still continues to invest money in network upgradation in India, and launched Narrow Band LTE-FDD on 1800MHz band in 2 cities - Benaras and Vishakapattanam is facing the heat in the Indian market, mostly due to demand of high speed wireless internet services. 

Update: Telenor 4G was launched in Amarabati, Maharastra - the 3rd city to get Telenor 4G. 

To keep afloat in the Indian telecom market, Telenor has two options : invest money to acquire more spectrum for 4G - be it from auction or merging/acquiring the rivals. Tata Tele was in talks with Telenor to merge their business, ultimately the deal did not happen. 

There are talks of the town that Idea Cellular is eying for Telenor's spectrum asset on 1800MHz band. Idea Cellular needs spectrum too badly, as they ignored the need of 4G, and now facing the spectrum crunch to compete with Airtel and Jio. 

Let's see what happens to Telenor - India's sabse sasta operator! 

Update: In February 2017 it was announced that Airtel will acquire Telenor India. In June the deal was approved by CCI. 
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