Axis Bank agreed to buy wallet provider FreeCharge for 3.85 billion rupees 

Axis Bank's logo is seen next to ATM machines at its corporate headquarters in Mumbai, India July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Vastavam web: Axis Bank Ltd, India’s seventh-biggest lender by assets, said on Thursday it had agreed to buy mobile payments wallet provider FreeCharge from e-commerce company Snapdeal for 3.85 billion rupees ($60.04 million).The deal comes as FreeCharge’s parent, Snapdeal, moves closer towards a merger with bigger rival Flipkart in what sources have said would be an up-to-$950 million deal.A decision on either merging FreeCharge with its existing payment wallet or keeping it as a separate unit within the bank will be taken after discussions with the regulator, Axis Bank Chief Executive Officer Shikha Sharma said.

“It’s a strategic fit because serving the digital mediums of tomorrow is an important objective for us as a bank,” Sharma said. Digital payments in India have surged after a shock government ban on high-value bank notes last November. Freecharge, however, lagged rivals Paytm and MobiKwik who have grown users and transactions at a faster pace. Banks are also looking to grow their retail businesses faster as the corporate segment has been hit due to over-leverage among companies and a crackdown on defaulting borrowers.