The Reserve Bank of India approved the applications of infrastructure finance company IDFC and microlender Bandhan Financial Services to begin banking operations. The two were among 25 vying for licenses being offered for the first time in several years.
"RBI's approach in this round of bank licenses could well be categorized as conservative," says the central bank. "At a time when there is public concern about governance, and when it comes to licenses for entities that are intimately trusted by the Indian public, this may well be the most appropriate stance." The most recent census data in 2011 showed only 59% of Indian households had access to banking services.