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Vikram Akula makes a comeback with financial start-up Vaya; plans small bank foray

Having forced to quit SKS Microfinance, which he founded, three years ago, Vikram Akula has returned to the financial inclusion space by buying 26 percent stake in a start-up Vaya Finserv, which is also eyeing small bank licence.

Akula, once seen as the poster boy of microfinance in India, has joined the Hyderabad-based business correspondent firm as Chairman. He was the founder of India's lone-listed micro-lender SKS Microfinance but quit the firm in late 2011 over differences with the firm's board.

"Now that my three-year non-compete period (with SKS) is over I was looking to get back to financial inclusion. I chose to join Vaya because it is focused on under-banked districts," Akula said today. He, however, declined to give details about the amount he has invested to buy the stake.

The stake acquisition will allow Akula to use this as a vehicle and to move to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) seeking a licence to float a small finance bank.

 Vikram Akula makes a comeback with financial start-up Vaya; plans  small bank foray

Reuters

Besides Akula, SKS Trust, which he runs, holds around 65 percent in Vaya and the rest is owned by the employees. Vaya, which started its operation this July, facilitates savings and loans for women's self-help groups.

Akula said Vaya will be applying for small finance banks.

"We will apply for small finance banks licence. We are talking to external advisors and preparing the Vaya currently has sufficient capital to meet the regulatory requirement. In fact, I don't think there is a need for the company to raise capital in the medium-term," he told CNBC-TV18 in an interview.

Akula was forced to resign from SKS board after the micro lender suffered heavy losses in key market of Andhra Pradesh. RBI last month issued final guidelines on small finance and payment banks. It will accept the applications for differentiated banks licences till January 16.

Currently, Vaya is working as a business correspondent on behalf of Yes Bank in four districts of Marathwada region of Maharashtra and two districts of northern Karnataka. The company is also in talks with some public as well as private sector banks to work for them as business correspondent. Vaya has 183 employees and disbursed 7.5 crore of loans so far.

According to a press release, Vaya is the first business correspondent to use tablet banking. The tablets of field officers are connected to a centralised online system, which has the ability to interface seamlessly with core banking systems to ensure daily cash settlement with partner banks.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Dec 11, 2014 08:35:49 IST

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