State Bank of India
(SBI) and ICICI, India’s largest public and private sector banks
respectively, have formed partnerships with two of the country’s
major telecoms firms to boost their mobile banking

Bharti, India’s largest
mobile-phone provider, has teamed up with SBI while Vodafone Esser
has joined forces with ICICI.

In a statement, Vodafone
Essar said it would work with ICICI to offer electronic payments
while Bharti and SBI will  provide money transfer and other m-
banking services.

Almost half of India’s
population has no access to traditional banking services, but
mobile phone use has mushroomed in the country, with over 700
million phone connections at the end of 2010.

Chanda Kochhar, managing
director of ICICI, said: “Mobile penetration is growing
exponentially in the country of which the rural market forms a
major contributor.

“There is a huge
potential for offering mobile banking in these regions, which will
facilitate access to the financially excluded parts of the society
and ensure that benefits from various welfare and growth programs
of the government reach them along with other financial services
and products.”

In November, Reserve
Bank of India deputy governor Shyamala Gopinath said about 887,000
Indian customers had started to use mobile banking.