New Bank Licensing Policy, 2013
New Bank Licensing Policy, 2013
Over the last two decades, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) gave license to twelve banks in the private sector.
This happened in two phases. Ten banks were licensed on the basis of guidelines issued in January 1993. The
guidelines were revised in January 2001 based on the experience gained from the functioning of these banks,
and fresh applications were invited. The applications received in response to this invitation were vetted by a High
Level Advisory Committee constituted by the RBI, and two more licences were issued, to two entities, viz., Kotak
Mahindra Bank and Yes Bank. While preparing these guidelines, the Reserve Bank recognized the need for an
explicit policy on banking structure in India keeping in view the recommendations of the Narasimham Committee,
Raghuram Rajan Committee and other viewpoints.
Guidelines and important aspects
(A) Eligible Promoters
(i) Entities/groups in the private sector that are ‘owned and controlled by residents’ [as defined in Department
of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)] and entities in public sector, are eligible to promote a bank through a wholly-owned Non-Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC).
(ii) Promoters/Promoter Groups with an existing non-banking financial company (NBFC) are eligible to apply
for a bank licence.
(B) ‘Fit and Proper’ criteria
Promoters/Promoter Groups should be ‘fit and proper’ in order to be eligible to promote banks through a wholly
owned NOFHC. RBI would assess the ‘fit and proper’ status of the applicants on the basis of following criteria
(a) Promoters/Promoter Groups should have a past record of sound credentials and integrity
(b) Promoters/Promoter Groups should be financially sound and have a successful track record of running their business for at least 10 years.
RBI may, inter alia, seek feedback on applicant Groups on these or any other relevant aspects from
other regulators, and enforcement and investigative agencies like Income Tax, CBI, Enforcement
Directorate, etc. as deemed appropriate.
(C) Corporate structure of the NOFHC
(i) Promoter/Promoter Group will be permitted to set up a bank only through a wholly-owned Non-Operative
Financial Holding Company (NOFHC).
(ii) The NOFHC should hold the bank as well as all the other financial services entities of the Group regulated
by RBI or other financial sector regulators.
Only non-financial services companies/entities and nonoperative financial holding company in the Group and individuals belonging to Promoter Group will be allowed to hold shares in the NOFHC. Financial services entities whose shares are held by the NOFHC cannot be shareholders of the NOFHC.
(iii) The general principle is that no financial services entity held by the NOFHC would be allowed to engage
in any activity that a bank is permitted to undertake departmentally. In this context:
(iv) The NOFHC should not be permitted to set up any new financial services entity for at least three years
from the date of commencement of business of the NOFHC. However, this would not preclude the bank
from having a subsidiary or joint venture or associate, where it is legally required or specifically permitted
(v) Only those regulated financial sector entities in which a Promoter Group has significant influence or
control will be held under the NOFHC.
(vi) The Promoter/Promoter Group entities/individuals associated with Promoter Group should hold equity
investment, in the bank and other financial entities held by it, only through the NOFHC.
(vi) Shares of the NOFHC should not be transferred to any entity outside the Promoter Group. Any change in
shareholding (by the Promoter Group) with in the NOFHC as a result of which a shareholder acquires 5
per cent or more of the voting equity capital of the NOFHC should be with the prior approval of RBI.
(D) Minimum voting equity capital requirements for banks and shareholding by NOFHC
(i) The initial minimum paid-up voting equity capital for a bank should be `5 billion (`.500 crores). Any
additional voting equity capital to be brought in will depend on the business plan of the Promoters.
(ii) The NOFHC should hold a minimum of 40 per cent of the paid-up voting equity capital of the bank which
should be locked in for a period of five years from the date of commencement of business of the bank.
(iii) Shareholding by NOFHC in the bank in excess of 40 per cent of the total paid-up voting equity capital
should be brought down to 40 per cent within three years from the date of commencement of business of
(iv) The shareholding by NOFHC should be brought down to 20 per cent of the paid-up voting equity capital
of the bank within a period of 10 years, and to 15 per cent within 12 years from the date of commencement
of business of the bank.
(v) The capital requirements for the regulated financial services entities held by the NOFHC should be as
prescribed by the respective sectoral regulators. The bank should be required to maintain a minimum
capital adequacy ratio of 13 per cent of its risk weighted assets (RWA) for a minimum period of 3 years
after the commencement of its operations subject to any higher percentage as may be prescribed by RBI
from time to time. On a consolidated basis, the NOFHC and the entities held by it should maintain a
minimum capital adequacy of 13 per cent of its consolidated RWA for a minimum period of 3 years.
(vi) The bank should get its shares listed on the stock exchanges within three years of the commencement
of business by the bank.
(E) Regulatory framework
(i) The NOFHC will be registered as a non-banking financial company (NBFC) with the RBI and will be
governed by a separate set of directions issued by RBI.
(iii) The financial entities held by the NOFHC will be governed by the applicable Statutes and regulations
prescribed by the respective financial sector regulators.
(F) Foreign shareholding in the bank
Where foreign shareholding in private sector banks is allowed up to a ceiling of 74 per cent of the paid-up voting
equity capital, the aggregate non-resident shareholding from FDI, NRIs and FIIs in the new private sector banks
should not exceed 49 per cent of the paid-up voting equity capital for the first 5 years from the date of licensing of
the bank. No non-resident shareholder, directly or indirectly, individually or in groups, or through subsidiary, associate or joint venture will be permitted to hold 5 per cent or more of the paid-up voting equity capital of the bank for a period of 5 years from the date of commencement of business of the bank. After the expiry of 5 years from the
date of commencement of business of the bank, the aggregate foreign shareholding would be as per the extant
(G) Corporate governance of NOFHC
The NOFHC should comply with the corporate governance guidelines as issued by RBI from time to time.
(H) Prudential Norms for the NOFHC
The prudential norms will be applied to NOFHC both on stand-alone as well as on a consolidated basis. Some of
the major prudential norms are as under:
(I) NOFHC on a stand-alone basis
(a) Prudential norms for classification, valuation and operation of investment portfolio.
(b) Prudential norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning pertaining to Advances.
(c) The NOFHC for the purpose of its liquidity management can make investments in bank deposits, money
market instruments, government securities and actively traded bonds and debentures.
(d) The NOFHC should closely monitor its liquidity position and interest rate risk. For this purpose, the
NOFHC should prepare a structural liquidity statement (STL) and interest rate sensitivity statement (IRS).
(f) The NOFHC may have a leverage up to 1.25 times of its paid-up equity capital and free reserves. The
actual leverage assumed within this limit should be based on the ability of the NOFHC to service its
borrowings from its dividend income.
(ii) NOFHC on a consolidated basis
(a) NOFHC should maintain capital adequacy and other requirements on a consolidated basis based on the
prudential guidelines on Capital Adequacy and Market Discipline – New Capital Adequacy Framework
(NCAF) issued under Basel II framework and Guidelines on Implementation of Basel III Capital Regulations
in India, when implemented.
(b) The NOFHC should prepare consolidated financial statements and other consolidated prudential reports
in terms of the Guidelines for consolidated accounting and other quantitative methods and in terms of
Scope of Prudential Consolidation indicated under Basel III Capital Regulations.
(c) The consolidated NOFHC should adhere to the instructions on disclosure in Financial Statements –
Notes to Accounts
(d) The consolidated NOFHC should prepare a structural liquidity statement (STL), interest rate sensitivity
(I) Exposure norms
Exposure norms are to be observed as per the guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India from time to time.
(J) Business Plan for the bank
(a) Applicants for new bank licenses will be required to furnish their business plans for the banks along with
their applications. The business plan will have to address how the bank proposes to achieve financial
(b) The business plan submitted by the applicant should be realistic and viable. In case of deviation from the
stated business plan after issue of licence, RBI may consider restricting the bank’s expansion, effecting
change in management and imposing other penal measures as may be necessary.
(K) Other conditions for the bank
(i) The Board of the bank should have a majority of independent Directors.
(ii) Any acquisition of shares which will take the aggregate holding of an individual/entity/group to the equivalent of 5 per cent or more of the paid-up voting equity capital of the bank, will require prior approval of RBI.
(iii) No single entity or group of related entities, other than the NOFHC, should have shareholding or control,
directly or indirectly, in excess of 10 per cent of the paid-up voting equity capital of the bank.
(iv) The bank should comply with the priority sector lending targets and sub-targets as applicable to the
existing domestic banks. For this purpose, the bank should build its priority sector lending portfolio from the commencement of its operations.
(v) The bank should open at least 25 per cent of its branches in unbanked rural centres (population up to
9,999 as per the latest census) to avoid over concentration of their branches in metropolitan areas and
cities which are already having adequate banking presence.
(vii) The bank should operate on Core Banking Solutions (CBS) from the beginning with all modern infrastructural facilities.
(viii) The bank should have a high powered Customer Grievances Cell to handle customer complaints.
(J) Procedure for RBI decisions
Reserve Bank of India would consider many factors before issuing the licenses for the new private sector banks.
At the first stage, the applications will be screened by RBI to ensure prima facie eligibility of the applicants. RBI
may apply additional criteria to determine the suitability of applications, in addition to the ’fit and proper’ criteria
prescribed by it. Thereafter, the applications will be referred to a High Level Advisory Committee to be set up by
The High Level Advisory Committee will comprise eminent persons with experience in banking, financial sector
and other relevant areas. The constitution of the committee will be announced shortly. The High Level Advisory
Committee will set up its own procedures for screening the application.
The Committee will submit its recommendations to RBI for consideration. The decision to issue an in-principle
approval for setting up of a bank will be taken by RBI. RBI’s decision in this regard will be final. The validity period
of in-principal approval for setting up of a bank is 18 months.