Airtel Payments Bank appointed former Visa director of product management Dhiraj Sharda as its new chief digital officer ahead of a nationwide roll-out of the service in 2017.

Sharda will be responsible for product development, digital delivery and digital marketing platforms for the operator’s payment banking division.

Prior to his role with Airtel, Sharda spent 15 years working for a range of companies in Silicon Valley including Visa, AT&T and, most recently, as director of product at IAC – the parent company of Expedia, Match and Tinder.

Bharti Airtel launched a number of pilots for its payment service, including a trial in Rajasthan in November, which attracted 100,000 customers in the first fortnight of operation.

To support its national launch, scheduled for January, the company aims to develop a nationwide network of at least three million merchant partners,  including smaller vendors serving rural areas.

Announcing the appointment, Airtel Payments Bank MD and CEO Shashi Arora said: “We are pleased to have Dhiraj as part of our leadership team. I am confident that his rich experience will add value to our endeavour to deliver world-class digital banking and payments solutions to every Indian through innovative products.”