How fit-and-proper is Sachin Bansal to run a bank?

The billionaire co-founder of Flipkart’s quest for a full banking licence is one paper away from fruition. What are his chances?
unicorn finance

In September 2019, the co-founder of India’s star e-commerce, Sachin Bansal, was not the first suitor of an insurance business that was on the block. Beleaguered home finance company DHFL’s parent WGC was selling its stake in its general insurance unit to bring down its liabilities and wanted to exit quickly. Another tech entrepreneur, Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma, was already at the door offering more money, but wouldn’t sign the dotted line until December.

But WGC could not wait and decided to exclusively deal with Bansal as he seemed a surer suitor. The due diligence prolonged and it was not until January that the deal was done for Rs 220 crore (most papers reported the deal was worth only Rs 100 crore). At the last minute, there was a serious hitch.

Authorities at the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India realized that Bansal’s company Navi Technologies could not be cleared “fit-and-proper” as its earlier application to be a non-banking financial company, or NBFC, was pending before the Reserve Bank of India. IRDA did not want to pre-empt the RBI.

In two years, Bansal had gone from a no-name in the financial services industry to be an applicant for a full-fledged banking licence—a notoriously difficult permit to obtain from RBI. For a tech entrepreneur with no banking experience to even apply would have been a ridiculous thought even five years earlier. The question remains, what are the odds of Bansal getting through?

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash. The Morning Context has raised money from a clutch of investors, entirely in their personal capacity. It is quite likely that some of them may be directly or indirectly involved in a competing line of business similar to the companies we write about. Our full list of investors is here.


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