Telecom major Bharti Airtel owned Airtel Payments Bank has registered close to 24% rise in losses to Rs 338.8 crore in the financial year 2018-19.
In the last fiscal, the company had filed loss of Rs 272.6 crore, as per RoC filing data shared by Tofler.
At the same time, the company also saw a 59% increase in revenue to Rs 254 crore from Rs 160 crore in the last fiscal.
The development has come at a time when payments bank segment is facing a hard time in the country. Airtel is one of the last remaining payment banks in the country along with Paytm Payments Bank, India Post Payments Bank, Fino Payments Bank and a few others.
The State Bank of India (SBI) in its last report had marked that Payment Banks as a business was facing stress on both the asset and liability counts.
In July, Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank Ltd and Vodafone m-Pesa announced shutting down of their operations after facing challenges.
Late July, Government-backed India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) announced that it is pivoting to Small Financial Bank (SFB)
The PBs’ existing rules do not allow direct lending and put a cap on deposits per customer at Rs 1 lakh. The limitation keeps smaller enterprises away from payments bank business. It only earns through investment in government securities and fee income they earn for processing transactions and cross-selling third-party services.
Since investment in the highly stable govt securities does not provide as much return, it gets harder to reap any profits or to break even through the current PB model.
In 2017-18, payments banks reported collective losses of Rs 516.5 crore, as RBI trends and progress in banking report. The figure for the ongoing year is not available.
The PBs started about three years ago, is said to have around a gross base of 16.34 million saving account customers across 4,500 unbanked outlets and over 1.5 lakh unique transactions outlets till March this year.