Norway’s Telenor has joined the crowd of local operators applying for payments bank licences in India.

Telenor, according to the Economic Times, said it had teamed up with two partners to bid for a licence from the Reserve Bank of India. The deadline was 2 February.

Its main partner is an India-based investor, with Telenor and IDFC, a financial institution, supporting the bid, the company said in a statement. Payments bank requirements limit foreign holding at 74 per cent, so Telenor needs a local partner to operate the service.

Earlier this week Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Industries applied to become payments banks — cutdown versions of traditional banks that the Indian government hopes will boost financial inclusion.

A subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, Airtel M Commerce Services, said last week it would bid for a payments bank licence. Airtel has an existing prepaid payment instrument licence and aims to convert it into one of the country’s new banking licences.

The new type of bank, which offers cash-in, cash-out plus handles money transfers, is intended to attract users outside the conventional banking sector.

Telenor’s whole-owned Indian operation, Uninor, has 43.6 million mobile connections.