Year 2013 could ring in some good news for bank aspirants. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), currently giving final touches to the proposed bank licence norms, is likely to release the final norms in January, according to RBI sources.
However, the process of inviting the applications might not start immediately, sources added.
After the final norms are issued, the central bank is expected to set up an external committee, to screen applications.
After the panel is set up, RBI will start accepting applications. It could take some time for fresh applications to come in, sources said.
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The process of issuing the final norms was expedited by the banking regulator following passage of the Banking Laws (Amendment) Act in Parliament earlier this month.
The law was amended to give more power to the central bank, such as to supersede a bank’s board and to inspect the bank’s subsidiaries — a demand made by RBI Governor D Subbarao for allowing new entrants in the sector.
Although final norms will be issued in January, it could take another six to 12 months for the regulator to complete the screening process and issue the first set of licences. In the first phase, three or four entities are expected to get licences.
RBI is expected to give a year to the entity after awarding the licence, to open the first branch. Banking aspirants said a full-fledged branch, having the core banking solution, could be opened in six to eight months from the date of receiving the licence.
Although the central bank is open to considering industrial houses for licences, it is not clear if they will get any in the first phase.
Apart from industrial houses, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) also eye licences but the regulator has made it clear that real estate and broking entities will not be considered.
Following the Budget announcement in 2010-11 by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee that NBFCs and business houses will be allowed to set up new banks, RBI started the process of framing guidelines for entry of new banks.
RBI released a discussion paper on the entry of new players in August 2010. A year later, it issued the draft guidelines.
In July this year, it released the gist of the comments it had got on the draft norms. The consultation process with stakeholders on the issue has been completed.