Airtel’s Payments Bank provided two million customers with virtual Mastercard debit and prepaid cards within the first five months of a partnership between the companies, expanding the scope of the mobile financial service platform.

The wireless operator, which launched Payments Bank in January, inked the deal with Mastercard in February to allow customers to use its app to pay for goods and services at more than 100,000 merchants.

Airtel’s service was the country’s first Payments Bank, launched as part of a government initiative to encourage wider financial inclusion and reduce the reliance on cash in the country. By 1 August, The Economic Times estimated the service had 10 million customers.

Rival operators, mainstream banks and payment apps are at various stages of development of similar services, with app company Paytm becoming the second to launch a Payments Bank during May.

Airtel Payments Bank MD and CEO Shashi Arora said: “We are delighted with the customer response to our online debit and prepaid cards that further validates the growing acceptance of our digital payment platform in India.”

Mastercard country corporate officer for India Porush Singh added: “It is heartening to see that cards issued by Airtel Payments Bank have clocked such an impressive growth. As payments processing partner, we are pleased to collaborate with Airtel Payments Bank to offer a safer, innovative and faster payments experience to its customers.”